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Early Animal Management Strategies during the Neolithic of the Konya Plain, Central Anatolia: Integrating Micromorphological and Microfossil Evidence

AuthorsGarcía-Suárez, Aroa; Portillo, Marta; Matthews, Wendy
Dung spherulites
Issue Date2020
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationEnvironmental Archaeology (25/2) : 208-226 (2020)
AbstractThis paper examines the contribution of microscopic multi-proxy approaches to the study of early husbandry practices and animal diet by integrated micromorphological, phytolith, and calcitic dung spherulite analyses of midden deposits at the three neighbouring Neolithic sites of Boncuklu (9th–8th millennium cal BC), Pınarbaşı (7th millennium cal BC) and Çatalhöyük (8th–6th millennium cal BC) in the Konya Plain, Central Turkey. The results reveal considerable chronological and contextual variation in human-animal inter-relations in open areas between different communities and sites. At Boncuklu, middens display well-defined areas where phytoliths and substantial accumulations of omnivore faecal matter low in spherulite content have been identified. By contrast, open spaces at the Late Neolithic campsite of Pınarbaşı comprise large concentrations of herbivore dung material associated with neonatal ovicaprine remains from spring birthing. Here, the deposits represent repeated dung-burning events, and include high concentrations of dung spherulites and phytoliths from wild grasses, and leaves and culms of reeds that, we suggest here, derive from fodder and fuel sources. Late middens at Çatalhöyük are characterised by thick sequences derived from multiple fuel burning events and rich in ashes, charred plants, articulated phytoliths – mainly from the husk of cereals, as well as the leaves and stems of reeds and sedges – and omnivore/ruminant coprolites, the abundance of the latter declining markedly in the latest levels of occupation. The application of this integrated microscopic approach to open areas has contributed to unravelling the complexity of formation processes at these sites, providing new insights into herding practices, diet, and the ecological diversity of Neolithic communities in Central Anatolia.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/14614103.2018.1497831
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