Tracing prehistoric agriculture – molecular and isotopic insights into ancient (Neolithic) Eurasian dairying practices

Tracing prehistoric agriculture – molecular and isotopic insights into ancient (Neolithic) Eurasian dairying practices

Issued: Tue, 10 Oct 2017 14:00:00 BST

SUERC Seminar Series

10 October

Tracing prehistoric agriculture – molecular and isotopic insights into ancient (Neolithic) Eurasian dairying practices

Clayton Magill, Heriot-Watt University

Archaeological horizons commonly preserve distinct biochemical fossils – coined biomarkers – derived from once-living plants and animals. 

In conjunction with their molecular isotopic composition, respective archaeological biomarkers can resolve different floral/faunal inputs into soils or, more rarely, porous artifacts such as ceramic vessels (e.g., pottery). 

As such, targeted biomarker analyses can be used to shed light on ancient farming practices and the emergence of husbandry products amid the so-called “Agricultural Revolution” that marked the adoption of Neolithic domestication-defined lifestyles across much of Eurasia. 

With this in mind, I will discuss new ideas about how stable and radiogenic isotopic measurements of individual faunal biomarkers are changing perceptions about the nature and importance of dairy products in southeast Europe almost 10,000 years ago.