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Tracing the Epipalaeolithic origins of plant management in southwest Asia

Objective

The transition from foraging to farming represents one of the most transcendental shifts in the history of humanity. Decades of research in southwest Asia have shown that this process culminated with the development of Neolithic agricultural systems c. 10 ka cal. BP. Yet, how it started, that is, how hunter-gatherers became, for the first time, engaged with the management of plants, continues to be largely undetermined. Palaeorigins aims to fill this major gap of knowledge. Benefiting from the exceptional Epipalaeolithic archaeobotanical materials that are now available (c. 23-11 ka cal. BP), it will ask: To what extent were Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers managing the land and the plant resources around them? Did climatic factors trigger plant resource intensification, or were cultural dynamics, like the need for specific foodstuffs, that first motivated plant-food production? To achieve such an ambitious aim PalaeOrigins will pioneer a holistic and high-resolution approach to study the plant-based subsistence. It will use a unique combination of traditional and most novel archaeobotanical materials, state-of-the-art stable isotope analyses, computational science, and theoretical models to: 1) Reconstruct the distribution and availability of plant resources during the environmental shifts of the late Pleistocene and the early Holocene; 2) Determine how plant procurement strategies, land uses and management activities articulated during the Epipalaeolithic period; and 3) Define hunter-gatherers' food culture, assessing their plant-food selection, processing and consumption practices. Taken together, PalaeOrigins will move beyond traditional Neolithic-centred paradigms to explain the origins of plant-food production. It will open up new research horizons, merging science and theory, to elucidate the nature of the human-environment interactions that paved the way to agriculture, and ultimately, changed the course of our history.

Coordinator

UNIVERSIDAD DEL PAIS VASCO/ EUSKAL HERRIKO UNIBERTSITATEA
Net EU contribution
€ 1 436 150,00
Address
Barrio Sarriena S N
48940 Leioa
Spain

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Region
Noreste País Vasco Bizkaia
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00

Participants (2)

UNIVERSITAT DE BARCELONA
Spain
Net EU contribution
€ 35 000,00
Address
Gran Via De Les Corts Catalanes 585
08007 Barcelona

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Region
Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00
ARANZADI ZIENTZI ELKARTEA
Spain
Net EU contribution
€ 28 000,00
Address
Zorroagagaina 11e
20014 Donostia San Sebastian

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Region
Noreste País Vasco Gipuzkoa
Activity type
Research Organisations
Non-EU contribution
€ 0,00