“Of herds and societies—Seasonal aspects of Vinča culture herding and land use practices revealed using sequential stable isotope analysis of animal teeth”

New article published by Rosalind E. Gillis, Jelena Bulatović, Kristina Penezić, Miloš Spasić, Nenad N. Tasićc and Cheryl A. Makarewicz in PLOS ONE.

Late Neolithic Vinča communities, spread over much of central and northern Balkans during the late sixth to mid-fifth millennium BC and characterised by unusually large and densely population centres, would have required highly organised food production systems. Zooarchaeological analysis indicates that domesticate livestock were herded, but little is known about the seasonal husbandry practices that helped ensure a steady supply of animal products to Vinča farming communities. Here, we present new stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotopic measurements of incremental bioapatite samples from the teeth of domesticated livestock and wild herbivore teeth from two late Neolithic Vinča culture sites: Vinča-Belo brdo and Stubline (Serbia). Our results show a low variation overall within sheep and goats in terms of pasture type that may have been composed of seasonal halophyte plant communities, which have higher δ13C values due to the saline rich growing environments. Cattle feeding strategies were more variable and provided with supplementary forage, such as cut branches or leafy hay, during winter. The sharp distinction in the management of cattle and sheep/goat may be associated with the development of herding strategies that sought to balance livestock feeding behaviours with available forage or, more provocatively, the emergence of household-based control over cattle–an animal that held a central economic and symbolic role in Vinča societies.

More info: https://www.mdpi.com/2571-550X/4/4/30

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