Time filter

Source Type

Craig O.E.,University of York | Steele V.J.,University of Bradford | Fischer A.,University of Bradford | Fischer A.,Heritage Agency of Denmark | And 8 more authors.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America | Year: 2011

Farming transformed societies globally. Yet, despite more than a century of research, there is little consensus on the speed or completeness of this fundamental change and, consequently, on its principal drivers. For Northern Europe, the debate has often centered on the rich archaeological record of the Western Baltic, but even here it is unclear how quickly or completely people abandoned wild terrestrial and marine resources after the introduction of domesticated plants and animals at ∼4000 calibrated years B.C. Ceramic containers are found ubiquitously on these sites and contain remarkably well-preserved lipids derived from the original use of the vessel. Reconstructing culinary practices from this ceramic record can contribute to longstanding debates concerning the origins of farming. Here we present data on the molecular and isotopic characteristics of lipids extracted from 133 ceramic vessels and 100 carbonized surface residues dating to immediately before and after the first evidence of domesticated animals and plants in the Western Baltic. The presence of specific lipid biomarkers, notably ω-(o- alkylphenyl)alkanoic acids, and the isotopic composition of individual n-alkanoic acids clearly show that a significant proportion (∼20%) of ceramic vessels with lipids preserved continued to be used for processing marine and freshwater resources across the transition to agriculture in this region. Although changes in pottery use are immediately evident, our data challenge the popular notions that economies were completely transformed with the arrival of farming and that Neolithic pottery was exclusively associated with produce from domesticated animals and plants.


Grunwald-Schwark V.,Kreisverwaltung Schleswig Flensburg | Zachos F.E.,Naturhistorisches Museum Wien | Honnen A.-C.,Leibniz Institute For Gewasserokologie Und Binnenfischerei | Borkenhagen P.,Faunistisch Okologische AG | And 10 more authors.
Natur und Landschaft | Year: 2012

The European otter (Lutra lutra) belongs to the most endangered mammal species in Europe and is a target species in many nature conservation projects. While the otter was still widespread in Schleswig-Holstein (S-H) in 1950, by the mid-1980s it had become almost extinct. Since 1993 a continuously increasing rate of recolonization in S-H has been observed. A comparison of the genetic profiles of otters in S-H with individuals of neighbouring populations reveals that most migrants originate from Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and - to a lesser extent - from Denmark. In addition we could show an increased genetic variability in otters in S-H, most likely due to the imimmigration from different neighbouring populations, which is a favourable starting position for the establishment of a growing founder population. The majority of water bodies in S H are rated as potential dispersal areas for otters. Many of them have been designated as migration corridor search area, in which it is mandatory that any future environmental planning must take account of the needs of otters. Under this precondition, and assuming an ongoing protection of otter habitats and migration routes, a very positive prognosis regarding the future development of the otter population in S-H can be given.


Saul H.,University of York | Wilson J.,University of York | Heron C.P.,University of Bradford | Glykou A.,University of Kiel | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Archaeological Science | Year: 2012

Starch granules are being successfully recovered from an increasing range of artefacts. Here we present the recovery of starches from carbonised ceramic 'foodcrusts' from late Mesolithic-early Neolithic residues at the site of Neustadt in northern Germany. A method for investigating background loading of residues with contaminant starches is proposed by comparing interior 'foodcrusts' versus exterior 'sooting', for the purposes of eliminating samples with insignificant quantities of grains from subsequent identification procedures. The classification of starches to plant taxon is traditionally achieved by manual observations and measurement of nominal and ratio morphological variables. Here, we present a method for the automated classification of granules, using software developed in-house. The results show that when multiple granules are considered, the species selected as modern reference examples can be classified to high levels of specificity. When applied to the archaeological samples we show that wild plant resources persist in importance across the transition to agriculture, with high proportions of granule forms consistent with acorn (Quercus sp.) occurring in all samples. Hazelnut (Corylus avellana) types are less well-represented suggesting it was not an important food in the context of pottery, and may have been over-represented in the repertoire of hunter-gatherer resources. Cereals are not represented in any of the samples, supporting the notion that their adoption may have been a slow process, occurring more gradually than for other domesticated foods, or that they were not initially processed in ceramic vessels. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Saul H.,University of York | Madella M.,Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies | Fischer A.,Danish Agency for Culture | Glykou A.,University of Kiel | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

Here we present evidence of phytoliths preserved in carbonised food deposits on prehistoric pottery from the western Baltic dating from 6,100 cal BP to 5750 cal BP. Based on comparisons to over 120 European and Asian species, our observations are consistent with phytolith morphologies observed in modern garlic mustard seed (Alliaria petiolata (M. Bieb) Cavara & Grande). As this seed has a strong flavour, little nutritional value, and the phytoliths are found in pots along with terrestrial and marine animal residues, these findings are the first direct evidence for the spicing of food in European prehistoric cuisine. Our evidence suggests a much greater antiquity to the spicing of foods than is evident from the macrofossil record, and challenges the view that plants were exploited by hunter-gatherers and early agriculturalists solely for energy requirements, rather than taste. © 2013 Saul et al.

Loading Stiftung Schleswig Holsteinische Landesmuseen collaborators
Loading Stiftung Schleswig Holsteinische Landesmuseen collaborators