The importance of milk in the Early Neolithic diet of the Northern parts of the Balkan Peninsula
Farming was introduced in the Balkans together with other technical novelties (pottery, polished stone tools, architecture...) during the 7th and 6th millennium cal BC, and these events marked the beginning of the Neolithic period. Modern genetic investigations suggest that all domesticated species that took part in early farming activities in the Balkans, were introduced from Southeast Asia. The relative importance of different products/species, however, varies from region to region )conditioned mainly by the environment). One of the biggest environmental challenge for the early farmers in Europe was the shift from Mediterranean to temperate climate, which happened in the central Balkans. Here we present the results from chemical and isotopic analyses of ancient lipids extracted from pottery, combined with typology assessment. We focus on sites from the temperate zones of the northern Balkan Peninsula (Vojvodina, Serbia), which belong to the Starčevo Neolithic group. The results suggest that milk and dairy products played an important role in the subsistence of the people in the North, which is very different from the image we have so far fro the more southern areas of the peninsula (Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria). The neolitisation of the Balkans reveals itself once again not as a homogeneous event, but as a complex process, during which pockets of different "Neolithics" developed within the diverse landscape.