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Did the first farmers of central and eastern Europe produce dairy foods?

  • Oliver E. Craig (a1), John Chapman (a2), Carl Heron (a3), Laura H. Willis (a3), László Bartosiewicz (a4), Gillian Taylor (a5), Alasdair Whittle (a6) and Matthew Collins (a7)...

Abstract

Although the origins of domestic animals have been well-documented, it is unclear when livestock were first exploited for secondary products, such as milk. The analysis of remnant fats preserved in ceramic vessels from two agricultural sites in central and eastern Europe dating to the Early Neolithic (5900-5500 cal BC) are best explained by the presence of milk residues. On this basis, the authors suggest that dairying featured in early European farming economies. The evidence is evaluated in the light of analysis of faunal remains from this region to determine the scale of dairying. It is suggested that dairying—perhaps of sheep or goats—was initially practised on a small scale and was part of a broad mixed economy.

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