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The Milking Revolution in Temperate Neolithic Europe

Objective

This project explores the introduction and spread of cattle-based agriculture by Neolithic Linearbandkeramik (LBK) farmers and its implications for modelling of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Northern and Central Europe beginning ca. 8,000 years ago. This revolutionary shift in human subsistence strategy completely reshaped prehistoric European culture, biology and economy, in ways which underlie modern life virtually worldwide. These changes underpinned the evolution of Lactase Persistence (LP) amongst modern Europeans, while the multi-billion Euro modern dairy economy is a direct consequence of human-induced biological reformulations made in this critical phase in European prehistory. The distinctive pottery that defines the LBK holds the key to understanding the changing roles of animals in the diets, economies and evolutionary genetics of LBK people. The project integrates three research themes: 1. Lipid biomarker and stable isotope analyses of food residues in LBK pottery to provide assessments of the major animal products acquired and processed, to test hypotheses emerging from recent genetic studies indicating the LBK as the core region for the emergence of LP; 2. State-of-the-art analyses, including stable isotope studies of domesticated animal teeth (and bone), of herding and slaughtering practices for cattle and sheep/goats and wild/hunted species compositions, butchery practices, meat and fat exploitation, to define animal husbandry related to the intensification of cattle herding and milking, and 3. Statistical modelling of lipid residue, isotopic and dating evidence from pottery and animal remains, with cultural and palaeoenvironmental records to identify the critical influences on managing and processing animals for meat and milk. The project will provide a unique picture of animal exploitation and milk use across the entire spatiotemporal range of the LBK embedded within a proper environmental and cultural framework.

Principal Investigator

Richard Peter Evershed (Prof.)

Host institution

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

Address

Beacon House Queens Road
Bs8 1qu Bristol

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 1 898 901

Principal Investigator

Richard Peter Evershed (Prof.)

Administrative Contact

Audrey Michael (Mrs.)

Beneficiaries (4)

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UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 1 898 901

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS

France

EU Contribution

€ 115 456

THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 149 325

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

United Kingdom

EU Contribution

€ 301 070

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 324202

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 June 2013

  • End date

    31 May 2018

Funded under:

FP7-IDEAS-ERC

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 464 752

  • EU contribution

    € 2 464 752

Hosted by:

UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

United Kingdom