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Early FarmersThe View from Archaeology and Science$
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Alasdair Whittle and Penny Bickle

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265758

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265758.001.0001

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Cattle and Sheep Herding at Cheia, Romania, at the Turn of the Fifth Millennium cal BC

Cattle and Sheep Herding at Cheia, Romania, at the Turn of the Fifth Millennium cal BC

A View from Stable Isotope Analysis

(p.115) 7 Cattle and Sheep Herding at Cheia, Romania, at the Turn of the Fifth Millennium cal BC
Early Farmers

Marie Balasse

Carlos Tornero

Stéphanie Bréhard

Joël Ughetto-Monfrin

Valentina Voinea

Adrian Bǎlǎşescu

British Academy

A stable isotope study was conducted on the zooarchaeological assemblage from Cheia, located on the Central Dobruja plateau, Romania, between the Danube and the Black Sea. Occupied at the turn of the fifth millennium cal BC by Hamangia communities, the site had a faunal assemblage heavily dominated by domesticates. The δ13C isotopes measured on domestic cattle and sheep bone collagen and tooth enamel were comparatively higher than those measured on most wild fauna, suggesting the exploitation of different ecosystems for herding and hunting. They could reveal either pasturing in dry ecosystems in the vicinity of the site, or exploitation of littoral lagoons where C4 plants could have occurred. Cattle birth seasonality occurred over less than four months. Because calving initiates lactation time, this feature might help in the future to define more precisely the parameters of this kind of economy where milk exploitation is suggested by the cattle mortality profile.

Keywords:   Cheia, Romania, fifth millennium BC, Hamangia, cattle, sheep, carbon isotopes, birth seasonality, milk exploitation, mortality profiles

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