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Early Neolithic sote

 

Heraldscotland.com

 

 

By Jody Harrison

THE first farmers to till the soil in Scotland may have initially put down roots in Aberdeenshire, archaeologists have said.

A team digging near Stonehaven have uncovered the earliest pottery remains ever found north of the border, dating back to 6,000 years ago.

The Neolithic artefacts indicate that the first settled communities may have sprung up in the region, which was previously occupied by ancient tribes of nomadic hunter gatherers.

Archaeologists believe they may have come across from mainland Europe by boat and settled nearby, instead of following major rivers inland.

The sherds of carinated bowls – the earliest type of pottery found in Britain – were discovered during work at Kirkton of Fetteresso by Cameron Archeaology.

New radiocarbon dating indicates they were probably deposited sometime between 3952 BC to 3766 BC, pre-dating previous finds by more than a century.

The beginning of the Neolithic period was one of the most significant periods in Scotland, marking an enormous change in the population and the landscape.

The act of farming the land was begun by new communities of settlers from Europe who brought new species of plants and animals, established permanent homes and cleared huge tracts of woodland, transforming the landscape.

Robert Lenfert, who co-authored a report on the discoveries, said: “This new evidence doesn’t support the previous notion that early Neolithic colonisation followed major rivers. “Rather, it is more convincing to postulate that this technology – and those capable of producing it – arrived directly via sea-routes into Stonehaven Bay, further supporting the evidence that this pottery is very early in the Neolithic period in Scotland.

There are only one or two sites in Britain which have similar early dates: Coupland in Northumberland and Eweford Pit in East Lothian, which corroborates the notion that the carinated bowl tradition first reached north-eastern Britain, primarily Scotland but also Northumbria, before becoming visible elsewhere in Britain.”

The team say Kirkton of Fetteresso was occupied by various groups down through the ages, with the dig revealing evidence of human occupation and activity spread over at least four and a half millennia from the early Neolithic to the early medieval period.

 

What is also particularly striking about Kirkton of Fetteresso is the apparent repetitive yet episodic activity within this relatively small area over at least four millennia,” said co-author Alison Cameron.

“The landscape surrounding the site contains numerous prehistoric features which span a similar timeframe, including Mesolithic remains and early Neolithic pits also containing carinated bowls.

 

“The new radiocarbon dating evidence we have gathered has revealed Kirkton of Fetteresso as a palimpsest of periodic activity covering the early Neolithic, the late Bronze Age, the early and middle to later Iron Ages (pre-Roman) and the early medieval or Pictish period.”

Analysis of the findings has been published on the archaeology reports online website.

 

 

 

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Archaeologists have unearthed evidence of the earliest large-scale celebrations in Britain – with people and animals traveling hundreds of miles for prehistoric feasting rituals. The study, led by Dr. Richard Madgwick of Cardiff University, is the most comprehensive to date and examined the bones of 131 pigs, the prime feasting animals, from four Late Neolithic complexes. Serving the world-famous monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, the four sites hosted the very first pan-British events.

Source: Prehistoric Britons rack up food miles for feasts near Stonehenge

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New research, led by the University of Bristol, has shed new light on the eating habits of Neolithic people living in southeastern Europe using food residues from pottery extracts dating back more than 8,000 years.

Source: New insights into what Neolithic people ate in southeastern Europe

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A new study describes the earliest-known use of nutmeg as a food ingredient, found at an archaeological site in Indonesia.

Source: 3,500-year-old pumpkin spice? Archaeologists find the earliest use of nutmeg as a food

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Analysis of fatty residue in pottery from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia revealed evidence of fermented dairy products — soft cheeses and yogurts — from about 7,200 years ago, according to an international team of researchers.

Source: Evidence of 7,200-year-old cheese making found on the Dalmatian Coast

the above article is similar to the post yesterday but I thought it worthwhile to give everyone both to read. JLP

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The dig site where the traces of cheese were found

 

original article:

By Kenneth Macdonald

BBC.com

Scientists have found traces of what they believe is the world’s oldest cheese.

It was made 7,000 years ago in what is now Croatia.

An international team, including Heriot-Watt university researchers, say it led to the transformation of Europe.

It is neither a sturdy cheddar nor a cheeky brie, rather some traces of fatty acids found on fragments of pottery from an archaeological site at Pokrovnik on the Dalmatian coast.

But it is enough for the researchers from Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh and Pennsylvania State universities, Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Šibenik City Museum to conclude the sieve-like pottery objects were used for straining curds out of whey to make cheese.

Traces of ancient milk fats have been found before but the new study has used carbon dating to produce a definitive chemical diagnosis that the Pokrovnik samples are from the cheese making process.

The team says their discovery means humans were making cheese 2,000 years earlier than previously thought, pushing the date back from the Bronze Age to the Neolithic era.

Cheese making was a breakthrough technology which transformed humanity.

More portable and longer lasting than liquid milk, it enabled early farming to spread into cooler central and northern areas.

Dr Clayton Magill, a research fellow at the Heriot-Watt’s Lyell Centre, says the discovery is both astounding and delightful.

‘Reduced infant mortality’

He is sure cheese lovers everywhere will be interested to find out more about the origins and antiquity of their cheese.

“We know that the consumption of milk and dairy products would have had many advantages for early farming populations because milk, yogurt and cheese are a good source of calories, protein and fat,” Dr Magill said.

“They could have even been reliable food between harvests or during droughts and famines.”

Previous archaeological finds have offered tantalising clues that humans made cheese in the New Stone Age.

Some Neolithic objects have been tentatively identified as strainers or cheese graters but this is the first direct evidence that milk was being fermented.

Pennsylvania State’s associate professor of anthropology Dr Sarah McClure says that while young children of the era could drink milk, many adult farmers were lactose intolerant.

Cheese changed that because adults could digest it.

“We suggest that milk and cheese production among Europe’s early farmers reduced infant mortality,” Dr McClure says, “and helped stimulate demographic shifts that propelled farming communities to expand to northern latitudes.”

How cheese was first produced is lost in prehistory. One theory is that before pottery vessels were developed, milk was stored in bladders made from animals’ stomachs. The rennet in the skins would have reacted with the milk to create curds and whey.

 

 

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Source: The Neolithic PalatePrint

Europe’s historical hunger for tasty food—spices, specifically—helped drive the Age of Exploration. When did flavorful food become so important that it would eventually change the course of human history? It is difficult to say because plant remains rarely last, and it can be a fool’s errand to speculate how they were used thousands of years ago. Now, however, in 6,000-year-old pottery from Denmark and Germany, a team of researchers has found phytoliths, small bits of silica that form in the tissues of some plants, from garlic mustard seeds, which carry strong, peppery flavor but little nutritional value.

Because they were found alongside residues of meat and fish, the seed remnants represent the earliest known direct evidence of spicing in European cuisine. According to researcher Hayley Saul of the University of York, “It certainly contributes important information about the prehistoric roots of this practice, which eventually culminated in globally significant processes and events.”

 

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