ARISE will provide a detailed survey of the dietary status of Southern Europe’s prehistoric inhabitants in order to examine key issues relating to the transition to farming in this region. The domestication of plants and animals and the spread of ways of life based on these resources was one of the most important events in human history. In Sothern Europe, there is good archaeological evidence for cereal cultivation and animal husbandry between 9,000 to 7,000 years ago; practices that can be traced to their origin in the Near East over a millennia earlier. However key questions remain unanswered or are keenly disputed: Was it a rapid event or a series of drawn-out processes? Did farming arrive as a complete package or were some elements introduced earlier than others? Was this process driven by the movement of people or of ideas? Recent methodological advances in molecular biology and mass spectrometry have provided new analytical tools that are now available to address these questions. Stable isotope analysis of human bones and chemical analysis of food remains on archaeological artefacts have provided spectacular insights into changes in human diets and subsistence practices. However, these have only been applied to sites in Northern Europe; the South has been surprisingly neglected. To re-address this balance, ARISE will apply these state-of-the-art methodologies to bones and artefacts from some of the most important early agricultural sites in the Mediterranean in order to produce a new synthesis of the origins of agriculture in this region. Additionally, ARISE will provide the potential for long-lasting collaboration between the applicant’s new and previous host departments (Universities of York & Rome) and promote his transition to independence as he establishes a new palaeodietary research group at York. To assist this process, the University of York are willing to make additional financial contributions towards the applicant’s reintegration.
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