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date: 28 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This paper integrates multiple strands of evidence for Neolithic subsistence economies in central and eastern Europe, with a focus on Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Ukraine and the Baltic region. The relatively sudden dominance of domestic animals and plants of the ‘Neolithic package’ in south-eastern and central European farming cultures such as Starčevo/Körös/Criş beginning c. 7000 BC is followed by occasional reversions to the exploitation of local wild resources during the subsequent Linearbandkeramik (LBK) and Lengyel cultures. In contrast, in Ukraine, there is continuity in subsistence strategies across the Mesolithic to Neolithic periods, with the exception of the Tripolye culture which has links to Neolithic developments in central Europe. Throughout the Ukraine wild resources are exploited, including freshwater fish and molluscs, and domesticated resources are integrated to varying degrees into subsistence strategies. The situation is very similar in the Baltic, where domestic resources only become more visible during the middle Neolithic, and dominant in the Bronze Age. Overall, the proportions of wild versus domesticated species in Neolithic assemblages vary in space and time in relation to numerous factors, including cultural, socio-economic, and ritual causes.

Keywords: Central and eastern Europe, Baltic region, subsistence, Neolithic, wild and domesticated resources

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