Published November 6, 2019 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Dietary adaptations at the Early Neolithic in the Danube Gorges: Neolithized foragers of Mesolitized farmers?

  • 1. Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
  • 2. BioSense Institute, Novi Sad; Laboratory for Bioarchaeology, University of Belgrade
  • 3. Departmant of Biology, University of Fribourg
  • 4. Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, Minist Culture, LAMPEA


It is now considered that migrants originating from Near-Eastern Neolithic communities brought the farming way of life into Europe, reshaping then the ecological niche, the socio-cultural organization, as well as major bio-demographic features. Although the Neolithic expansion is well-documented at a regional level, the nature and consequences of local interactions with foragers are still debated. The Danube Gorges prehistoric sites represent an archaeological complex of particular importance to tackle these issues because of its location between southeastern and central Europe, its temporal continuity (Mesolithic-Neolithic occupation, 9500-5500 cal. BC), and unique bioarchaeological record. Over the past decades, knowledge about the local process of Neolithization has greatly expanded thanks to the application of various biogeochemical analyses: stable isotope analyses have reconstructed subsistence practices, radiogenic strontium analyses have identified the presence of non-local individuals at the Early Neolithic and genome-wide data analyses have evidenced the presence of individuals descended from Near-Eastern Neolithic communities. These different markers are here compared in order to reconstruct the diet of migrants, of locals, and of their putative descendants, and thereby to explore the mechanisms of dietary adaptations upon successive generations at the earliest Neolithic communities (first generation migrants) had a more terrestrial diet. While the descendants of local fisher-hunter-gatherers mostly continue to perpetuate their dietary traditions, the descendents of migrants also mostly adopted the local fishing practices, suggesting a local process of "Mesolithization". Examined within the funerary context, these bioarchaeological markers also indicate that the Neolitization of the Gorges should not be seen as a straightforward pattern of acculturation but rather as a complex mosaic of cultural and behavioral interactions. This study thus illustrates how the life history perspective may contribute to a finest understanding of the Neolithization process.  


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BIRTH – Births, mothers and babies: prehistoric fertility in the Balkans between 10000 – 5000 BC 640557
European Commission