Emily Johnson

Department: Zooarchaeology
Discipline: Archaeology

Project Summary

"The nature of bone fat processing and butchery practices in the LBK and their relation to dairying"

This thesis presents the results of zooarchaeological investigations into diet in Neolithic central Europe. The aim of these investigations was to gain a better understanding of animal carcass processing, particularly dietary decisions made concerning intensity of exploitation of meat and fat resources. The primary focus was the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) culture, a sedentary community of farmers dating from c. 5500-4900BC in central Europe suspected to be the first society to utilise milk and its products in this region. The adoption of dairying, currently under scrutiny by the NeoMilk project, would have increased the availability of fat on settlements, and could have affected the way in which people utilised primary animal products.

Using in-depth zooarchaeological analysis of butchery, fracture and fragmentation, the thesis presents a snapshot of Neolithic meat and fat exploitation. Patterns of butchery and heat exposure suggest differential cooking practices between sites, with a possible focus on nutrient retention at some, contrasted with a cultural preference for roasting at others. Intensive processing of bone fats, namely bone grease, was not detected at any site and it is likely that the domesticated LBK diet rendered this practice unnecessary to subsistence. Bone marrow was a much more commonly exploited resource, but variation was considerable between sites. It is possible that the intensification of dairying had a significant effect on the utilisation of bone marrow. Sites with the most evidence for milk use, detected through lipid residue and osteoarchaeological evidence, show less intensive exploitation of bone marrow than those with little or no evidence of dairying. The thesis therefore presents evidence of zooarchaeologically detectable dietary decisions being made in the face of adoption of new foodstuffs.

Supervisory Team

Lead supervisor: Prof. Alan Outram

Second supervisor: Dr Linda Hurcombe

Wider Research Interests

Zooarchaeology, Fracture Freshness Analysis, Taphonomy, Site Formation, Butchery Analysis

Neolithic Europe, the LBK culture, Subsistence, the Farming Transisition

Authored Publications/Reports

Johnson EV, Parmenter PCR, Outram AK (2016) A new approach to profiling taphonomic history through bone fracture analysis, with an example application to the Linearbandkeramik site of Ludwinowo 7., Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 9, 623-629

Parmenter PCR, Johnson EV, Outram AK (2015) Inventing the Neolithic? Putting evidence-based interpretation back into the study of faunal remains from causewayed enclosures, World Archaeology, vol. 47, no. 5, 1-15

Johnson EV (2017) A zooarchaeological study of butchery and bone fat processing practices among early Neolithic farming societies in central Europe