Humans Found Gradual Transition To Agriculture
October 25, 2011

Humans Found Gradual Transition To Agriculture

According to a new study of ancient pottery, humans may have undergone a gradual transition from fishing, hunting and gathering to farming.

Researchers from the University of York and the University of Bradford analyzed cooking residues preserved in 133 ceramic vessels from the Western Baltic regions of Northern Europe to establish whether these residues were from terrestrial, marine or freshwater organisms.

The team studied ceramic pots from 15 sites that dated back to about 4,000 B.C., which is a time when the first evidence of domesticated animals and plants was found in the region.

The team found that fish and other aquatic resources continued to be exploited after the advent of farming and domestication.

About a fifth of coastal pots contained other biochemical traces of aquatic organisms, including fats and oils absent in terrestrial animals and plants.

"This research provides clear evidence people across the Western Baltic continued to exploit marine and freshwater resources despite the arrival of domesticated animals and plants," Lead author Dr Oliver Craig, of the Department of Archaeology at York, said in a press release.

"Although farming was introduced rapidly across this region, it may not have caused such a dramatic shift from hunter-gatherer life as we previously thought."

The research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).


Image Caption: These artifacts are thought to have been votive offerings by the earliest farming communities who lived in this area. Chemical analysis of charred food residues preserved on inside of a number of these vessels show they were used for processing freshwater fish, which supplemented their fledgling agricultural economy. Credit: Image courtesy of Anders Fischer


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