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Publication - Professor Volker Heyd

    Neolithic dairy farming at the extreme of agriculture in northern Europe.


    Cramp, LJE, Evershed, RP, Lavento, M, Halinen, P, Mannermaa, K, Oinonen, M, Kettunen, J, Perola, M, Onkamo, P & Heyd, VM, 2014, ‘Neolithic dairy farming at the extreme of agriculture in northern Europe.’. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 281.


    The conventional ‘Neolithic package’ comprised animals and plants originally
    domesticated in the Near East. As farming spread on a generally
    northwest trajectory across Europe, early pastoralists would have been
    faced with the challenge of making farming viable in regions in which the
    organisms were poorly adapted to providing optimal yields or even surviving.
    Hence, it has long been debated whether Neolithic economies were ever
    established at the modern limits of agriculture. Here, we examine food residues
    in pottery, testing a hypothesis that Neolithic farming was practiced
    beyond the 60th parallel north. Our findings, based on diagnostic biomarker
    lipids and d13C values of preserved fatty acids, reveal a transition at ca 2500
    BC from the exploitation of aquatic organisms to processing of ruminant
    products, specifically milk, confirming farming was practiced at high latitudes.
    Combining this with genetic, environmental and archaeological
    information, we demonstrate the origins of dairying likely accompanied
    an incoming, genetically distinct, population successfully establishing this
    new subsistence ‘package’.

    Full details in the University publications repository