Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe's first farmers

Bogaard, A.; Fraser, R.; Heaton, T.H.E.; Wallace, M.; Vaiglova, P.; Charles, M.; Jones, G.; Evershed, R.P.; Styring, A.K.; Andersen, N.H.; Arbogast, R.-M.; Bartosiewicz, L.; Gardeisen, A.; Kanstrup, M.; Maier, U.; Marinova, E.; Ninov, L.; Schafer, M.; Stephan, E.. 2013 Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe's first farmers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110 (31). 12589-12594.

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The spread of farming from western Asia to Europe had profound long-term social and ecological impacts, but identification of the specific nature of Neolithic land management practices and the dietary contribution of early crops has been problematic. Here, we present previously undescribed stable isotope determinations of charred cereals and pulses from 13 Neolithic sites across Europe (dating ca. 5900–2400 cal B.C.), which show that early farmers used livestock manure and water management to enhance crop yields. Intensive manuring inextricably linked plant cultivation and animal herding and contributed to the remarkable resilience of these combined practices across diverse climatic zones. Critically, our findings suggest that commonly applied paleodietary interpretations of human and herbivore δ15N values have systematically underestimated the contribution of crop-derived protein to early farmer diets.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0027-8424
Date made live: 14 Mar 2014 10:11 +0 (UTC)

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