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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The establishment of farming is a defining feature of the Neolithic period in western Asia and Europe. Decades of archaeobotanical research have clarified the spectrum of crops that emerged, geographical and diachronic variation in the cultivation of particular species, and, more recently, aspects of arable land management. Most of the available evidence, however, is indirect as regards the actual role of crops in the human (and animal) diet. Taking western Eurasia as a particularly well-researched frame of reference, this chapter uses case studies to illustrate complementary inferences from plant processing, storage, and food preparation evidence, on the one hand, and direct dietary inferences incorporating preserved human remains, on the other. This integrated approach supports the rarely tested assumption that crops were dietary staples in Neolithic communities, and that the ‘politics’ of their production and storage shaped social life.

Keywords: Neolithic, archaeobotany, farming, diet, western Asia, Europe

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