The origin and spread of stock-keeping in the Near East and Europe

Project start date: 2007-01 Project end date: 2010-12
In western Eurasia we know that the earliest evidence for domestic farmyard animals occurs around 10,000 years ago. We also know that farming then spread westwards through Europe over the subsequent millennia, arriving in the far west and north of Europe some 6,000 years ago. For decades there have been major debates as to the nature of this spread, with many basic questions still remaining largely unanswered. The objective of this major research project, which has been funded for four years by the AHRC, is to address these questions. We are carrying out the largest and most systematic survey of published/archived archaeological animal bone data ever undertaken in order to re-examine the evidence for the origins of stock-keeping in the Near East and its spread into Europe during the Epipalaeolithic and Neolithic periods, c.12,000 to 6,000 years ago. The basis for our study is a comprehensive database of selected animal bone data from relevant sites. Analysis of these collated datesets will enable us to: • establish the key characteristics of early Neolithic animal exploitation economies through time and over broad and geographic regions; • understand the key factors that account for variation in early Neolithic animal exploitation; • explore possible variations in husbandry and hunting strategies that developed as Neolithic herding economies spread from their area/s of origin; • assess the speed of spread of livestock farming across Europe; • look for possible adaptive changes in husbandry and hunting practices; • and to investigate the evidence for local indigenous domestication.
Subject domains: 
Methods usedCategory
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
CollatingData analysis
Spatial data analysisData analysis
Statistical analysisData analysis
Funding sources: 
Agència de Gustío d’Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Wellcome Trust
Content types created: 
Software tools used: 
Source material used:  
Lists of taxa in published zooarchaeological reports from Mesolithic/Epipalaeolithic and aceramic, early and middle Neolithic sites in SW Asia, E Mediterranean, Europe (and including Britain and Ireland); records accessed include fully quantified faunal assemblages in which identifications and NISP values are presented.
Digital resource created:  
Our project is still in progress but by completion we will have produced a database in Microsoft Access, which comprises comprehensive lists of faunal data from Mesolithic/Epipalaeolithic and aceramic, early and middle Neolithic sites in southwest Asia and Europe. Full bibliographic references for source data will be accessible, together with detailed spatial and chronological information for each site included in the database.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Data Formats created: 
Conolly, James, Sue Colledge, Keith Dobney, Jean-Denis Vigne, Joris Peters, Barbara Stopp, Katie Manning, Stephen Shennan. (in prep). Meta-analysis of zooarchaeological data from SW Asia and SE Europe provides new insight into the origins and spread of animal husbandry.

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University College London
University of Aberdeen
Other institutions involved:
Trent University ON

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Professor Stephen Shennan; Professor Keith Dobney
Other staff:Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:Dr James Conolly (Trent University, ON): database, GIS expertise

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordSue Colledge
TitleThe origin and spread of stock-keeping in the Near East and Europe
Record created2008-05-19
Record updated2010-07-15 15:46
URL of record
Citation of recordSue Colledge: The origin and spread of stock-keeping in the Near East and Europe. <> created: 2008-05-19, last updated 2010-07-15 15:46
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