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Department of Archaeology

Staff

Publication details for Dr Janet Montgomery

Gron, K.J., Montgomery, J. & Rowley-Conwy, P. (2015). Cattle Management for Dairying in Scandinavia’s earliest Neolithic. PLOS ONE 10(7): e0131267.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

New evidence for cattle husbandry practices during the earliest period of the southern Scandinavian Neolithic indicates multiple birth seasons and dairying from its start. Sequential sampling of tooth enamel carbonate carbon and oxygen isotope ratio analyses and strontium isotopic provenancing indicate more than one season of birth in locally reared cattle at the earliest Neolithic Funnel Beaker (EN I TRB, 3950-3500 cal. B.C.) site of Almhov in Scania, Sweden. The main purpose for which cattle are manipulated to give birth in more than one season is to prolong lactation for the production of milk and dairy-based products. As this is a difficult, intensive, and time-consuming strategy, these data demonstrate complex farming practices by early Neolithic farmers. This result offers strong support for immigration-based explanations of agricultural origins in southern Scandinavia on the grounds that such a specialised skill set cannot represent the piecemeal incorporation of agricultural techniques into an existing hunter-gatherer-fisher economy.