Did the first farmers of central and eastern Europe produce dairy foods?

  title={Did the first farmers of central and eastern Europe produce dairy foods?},
  author={Oliver E. Craig and J. C. Chapman and Carl P. Heron and Laura H. Willis and L{\'a}szl{\'o} Bartosiewicz and Gillian Taylor and Alasdair Whittle and Matthew James Collins},
  pages={882 - 894}
Although the origins of domestic animals have been well-documented, it is unclear when livestock were first exploited for secondary products, such as milk. The analysis of remnant fats preserved in ceramic vessels from two agricultural sites in central and eastern Europe dating to the Early Neolithic (5900-5500 cal BC) are best explained by the presence of milk residues. On this basis, the authors suggest that dairying featured in early European farming economies. The evidence is evaluated in… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

Earliest evidence for cheese making in the sixth millennium bc in northern Europe

The presence of abundant milk fat in sieves/strainer vessels, comparable in form to modern cheese strainers, provides compelling evidence for the vessels having being used to separate fat-rich milk curds from the lactose-containing whey.

‘Go(a)t milk?’ New perspectives on the zooarchaeological evidence for the earliest intensification of dairying in south eastern Europe

Abstract The origins of secondary product exploitation for domestic livestock, in particular milking, is a long-standing debate in archaeology. This paper re-analyses zooarchaeological age-at-death

Regional asynchronicity in dairy production and processing in early farming communities of the northern Mediterranean

Overall, it appears that milk or the by-products of milk was an important foodstuff, which may have contributed significantly to the spread of these cultural groups by providing a nourishing and sustainable product for early farming communities.

Earliest date for milk use in the Near East and southeastern Europe linked to cattle herding

It is shown that milk was in use by the seventh millennium; this is the earliest direct evidence to date.

Living off the land: Terrestrial-based diet and dairying in the farming communities of the Neolithic Balkans

Organic residue analyses of archaeological pottery, taxonomic and isotopic study of domestic animal remains and biomolecular analyses of human dental calculus suggest that milk was processed in ceramic vessels, and the first compound-specific radiocarbon dates for the region are presented.

Latitudinal gradient in dairy production with the introduction of farming in Atlantic Europe

Analysis of lipid residues from Neolithic pottery from along the Atlantic coast of Europe is used to trace the spread of dairy production and shifts in diet, and finds an absence of aquatic foods, including in ceramics from coastal sites.

The beginnings of dairying as practised by pastoralists in ‘green’ Saharan Africa in the 5th millennium BC

Previous research has identified the antiquity and chronology of dairying practices as beginning in the Near East and its subsequent spread across Europe. In the Libyan Sahara, archaeological

First dairying in green Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium bc

The first unequivocal chemical evidence, based on the δ13C and Δ13C values of the major alkanoic acids of milk fat, for the adoption of dairying practices by prehistoric Saharan African people in the fifth millennium bc is reported.

Seasonal calving in European Prehistoric cattle and its impacts on milk availability and cheese-making

Cattle agropastoral systems in Neolithic Europe were strongly constrained by environmental factors, in particular forage resources, which would account for cheese-making, transforming a seasonal milk supply into a storable product.

Dietary Practices at the Onset of the Neolithic in the Western Mediterranean Revealed Using a Combined Biomarker and Isotopic Approach

Impressed/Cardial Wares are thought to have spread simultaneously with domesticates through the Western Mediterranean at the onset of the Neolithic. Their function is often associated with processing



The development of dairying in Europe: potential evidence from food residues on ceramics

Providing evidence of dairying is crucial to the understanding of the development and intensification of Neolithic farming practices in Europe, beyond the early stages of domestication. Until

Direct chemical evidence for widespread dairying in prehistoric Britain

Pottery studies from a range of key early Neolithic sites confirmed that dairying was a widespread activity in this period and therefore probably well developed when farming was introduced into Britain in the fifth millennium B.C.

Animals for food

  • W. Holmes
  • Economics
    Proceedings of the Nutrition Society
  • 1970
The background to the use of animals for food production is outlined and it is indicated that if the current rate of increase in agricultural production continued but the rate of population growth was halved, the world food problem would in global terms be solved.

The Origins of Milk and Wool Production in the Old World: A Zooarchaeological Perspective from the Central Balkans [and Comments]

When, where, and why the shift from an emphasis upon primary (meat) to secondary (milk, wool, and traction) products of domestic animals took place is uncertain. Epigraphic/glyptic and artifactual

Evidence for Varying Patterns of Exploitation of Animal Products in Different Prehistoric Pottery Traditions Based on Lipids Preserved in Surface and Absorbed Residues

The excavation of a barrow at Upper Ninepence, Walton in the Welsh Borderlands, U.K., revealed two phases of occupation associated with two different ceramic traditions, namely Grooved Ware (2500bc)

Direct demonstration of milk as an element of archaeological economies

The stable carbon isotope (delta13C) compositions of individual fatty acid components of remnant fats preserved in archaeological pottery vessels show that dairying was a component of archaeological

Genetic evidence for Near-Eastern origins of European cattle

The limited ranges of the wild progenitors of many of the primary European domestic species point to their origins further east in Anatolia or the fertile crescent. The wild ox (Bos primigenius),

Gene-culture coevolution between cattle milk protein genes and human lactase genes

Substantial geographic coincidence between high diversity in cattle milk genes, locations of the European Neolithic cattle farming sites and present-day lactose tolerance in Europeans suggests a gene-culture coevolution between cattle and humans.


Summary. Fragments of ceramic sieves constitute a widespread, but littleknown element in the ceramic inventories of Linear Pottery sites in temperate Europe. These sieves appear to have functioned as

TRB Culture. The First Farmers of the North European Plain.

Geographical background the late hunter-gatherers of the North European plain and the neighbouring central European farmers the late Mesolithic groups the early farming groups the TRB culture - the