Species Specific Investigation Into Sheep and Goat Husbandry During the Early European Neolithic
Authors: Gillis, R.E., Gaastra, J., Vander Linden, M. and Vigne, J.-D.
Journal: Environmental Archaeology: the journal of human palaeoecology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Archaeozoological assemblages are important sources of information on past management strategies, which are influenced by cultural practices as well as the physical geography and climate. Sheep, goat and cattle arrived in Europe with early Neolithic migrants. Their distribution is believed to have been mainly influenced by the geography of European regions although individual species may have held symbolic importance for specific Neolithic cultures. Domesticated animal mortality data derived from dental eruption, wear and replacement can provide insights into slaughter management and consequently animal husbandry practices. Previous studies have focused on caprines (sheep and goat) collectively as a results of their morphological similarity. Here we present a species specific study of sheep and goat mortality data from early European and Anatolian Neolithic contexts using correspondence analysis. The results show that for sheep there were significant differences in slaughter management practices between regions, cultures and site types whereas for goats there was none. This initial examination into sheep and goat husbandry during the Neolithic suggests that cultural practices as well as regional geography played an important role in shaping management practices.