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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses not on the role of colonizing farmers or indigenous foragers in introducing domesticates to Neolithic southern Europe, but on the important and more soluble problems of the nature of land use and its wider ramifications and consequences. With allowance for the vagaries of archaeological preservation and investigation, Neolithic communities were largely dependent on small-scale, intensive ‘gardening’ of staple grain crops. Livestock contributed manure, traction, and dietary protein and variety (meat and dairy produce). Wild resources played a minor dietary role, but hunting was regionally important to social reproduction and landscape enculturation. Meat from livestock was central to commensal reinforcement of collective solidarity in the face of tensions arising from household-level storage of staple crops and perhaps ownership of land. Radical changes in cultural landscapes, social relations, and ideology accompanied the inception of farming, and domesticates were as important to early farmers’ political economy as to their subsistence.

Keywords: Neolithic, southern Europe, early farmers, land use, staple crops, livestock, garden cultivation, commensality

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