A zooarchaeological study of butchery and bone fat processing practices among early Neolithic farming societies in central Europe
Johnson, Emily Victoria
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
I wish to publish papers using material that is substantially drawn from my thesis.
This thesis presents the results of zooarchaeological investigations into diet in Neolithic central Europe. The aim of these investigations was to gain a better understanding of animal carcass processing, particularly dietary decisions made concerning intensity of exploitation of meat and fat resources. The primary focus was the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture, a sedentary community of farmers dating from c. 5500-4900BC in central Europe suspected to be the first society to utilise milk and its products in this region. The adoption of dairying, currently under scrutiny by the NeoMilk project, would have increased the availability of fat on settlements, and could have affected the way in which people utilised primary animal products. Using in-depth zooarchaeological analysis of butchery, fracture and fragmentation, this thesis presents a snapshot of Neolithic meat and fat exploitation. Patterns of butchery and heat exposure suggest differential cooking practices between sites, with a possible focus on nutrient retention at some, contrasted with a cultural preference for roasting at others. Intensive processing of bone fats, namely bone grease, was not detected at any site and it is likely that the domesticated LBK diet rendered this practice unnecessary to subsistence. Bone marrow was a much more commonly exploited resource, but variation was considerable between sites. It is possible that the intensification of dairying had a significant effect on the utilisation of bone marrow. Sites with the most evidence for milk use, detected through lipid residue and osteoarchaeological evidence, show less intensive exploitation of bone marrow than those with little or no evidence of dairying. This thesis therefore presents evidence of zooarchaeologically detectable dietary decisions being made in the face of adoption of new foodstuffs.
PhD in Archaeology