Investigation of dairying in Mediterranean Iberian Prehistory (iDIP)
Partecipanti al progetto
Descrizione del progetto
The goal of this multidisciplinary project is to answer fundamental questions about the origins and spread of ruminant dairying in the Mediterranean area of the Iberian Peninsula during Late Prehistory.
Milk consumption is regarded as a classic example of gene-culture evolution, and its emergence marks a major shift in human dietary ecology.
However, critical questions regarding the rise and spread of dairying during the Neolithic remain poorly understood, including:
(1) What was the scale of dairying during the Iberian Neolithic?
(2) Which livestock were most important in early dairying economies?
(3) Did dairying practices undergo a major change during the Neolithic-Bronze Age transition, as hypothesized by the Two-Step Milk Revolution model?
Until recently, it was necessary to rely on indirect approaches to address these questions, frequently leading to conflicting interpretations. Now, the combination of organic lipid residue analysis on pottery fragments with a novel method for detecting the milk protein betalactoglobulin (BLG) within the dental calculus of ancient skeletons, will change this picture. Using these methods we can directly investigate the pattern, nature, and spread of dairying economies in Prehistory. Being able to assess the types of lipids found in different types of pottery vessels, as well as to link BLG protein with individual osteobiographies, will help to achieve an in-depth knowledge of this phenomenon.
In this research project, we propose to use this method to analyze pottery fragments and dental calculus from Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Age sites across Eastern and Southeastern Iberia. The data we will generate in this project will allow us to directly test and refine multiple hypotheses regarding the origins and spread of Neolithic dairying, and to resolve ongoing debates about the scale of dairying before the rise of genetic LP and the relative importance of Caprinae vs. Bovinae in early dairying economies.