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The pathways of humans and animals in the Early Neolithic Balkans: an archaeozoological perspective

Živaljević, Ivana; Dimitrijević, Vesna; Stefanović, Sofija

Over the last couple of decades, extensive archaeozoological and aDNA studies have securely placed the origin of animal domestication in the Middle East. From this area, humans and domesticated animals (sheep, goat, cattle and pig) gradually spread to the Balkans, and ultimately to the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, the faunal record from the Early Neolithic (c. 6500‒5500 cal BC) sites in the Balkans indicates that this process had been far from uniform. There seem to have been pronounced regional differences in herding strategies, mainly between the southern parts of the Balkan peninsula, and its central and northern parts, bordering with the Great Pannonian plain. In the former, animal husbandry was mainly oriented towards caprovines, whereas in the latter, in addition to sheep and goat, cattle husbandry played a more significant role. In this paper, we present new results of the analysis of faunal assemblages from Early Neolithic sites in Serbia and North Macedonia, the latter representing an area which had
previously been insufficiently studied from an archaeozoological perspective. By comparing taxonomic compositions and mortality profiles of domestic animals in the two studied regions, we aim to provide additional insights into different animal husbandry
practices, and look into possible reasons for this divergence – adaptations to new environments, cultural attitudes to various animals, and/or adherence to particular traditions.

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