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The origins and spread of stock-keeping: the role of cultural and environmental influences on early Neolithic animal exploitation in Europe

  • Katie Manning (a1), Sean S. Downey (a1), Sue Colledge (a1), James Conolly (a2), Barbara Stopp (a3), Keith Dobney (a4) and Stephen Shennan (a1)...

It has long been recognised that the proportions of Neolithic domestic animal species—cattle, pig and sheep/goat—vary from region to region, but it has hitherto been unclear how much this variability is related to cultural practices or to environmental constraints. This study uses hundreds of faunal assemblages from across Neolithic Europe to reveal the distribution of animal use between north and south, east and west. The remarkable results present us with a geography of Neolithic animal society—from the rabbit-loving Mediterranean to the beef-eaters of the north and west. They also demonstrate that the choices made by early Neolithic herders were largely determined by their environments. Cultural links appear to have played only a minor role in the species composition of early Neolithic animal societies.

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