The recent PNAS publication by Amy Bogaard and colleagues (“Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe’s first farmers”) has been featured in a post on Science magazine’s ScienceNOW blog, which can be found here.
“Crop manuring and intensive land management by Europe’s first farmers” (by Amy Bogaard, Rebecca Fraser, Tim H. E. Heaton, Michael Wallace, Petra Vaiglova, Michael Charles, Glynis Jones, Richard P. Evershed, Amy K. Styring, Niels H. Andersen, Rose-Marie Arbogast, László Bartosiewicz, Armelle Gardeisen, Marie Kanstrup, Ursula Maier, Elena Marinova, Lazar Ninov, Marguerita Schäfer, and Elisabeth Stephan) is now available in Early View from PNAS.
The spread of farming from western Asia to Europe had profound long-term social and ecological impacts, but identification of the specific nature of Neolithic land management practices and the dietary contribution of early crops has been problematic. Here, we present previously undescribed stable isotope determinations of charred cereals and pulses from 13 Neolithic sites across Europe (dating ca. 5900–2400 cal B.C.), which show that early farmers used livestock manure and water management to enhance crop yields. Intensive manuring inextricably linked plant cultivation and animal herding and contributed to the remarkable resilience of these combined practices across diverse climatic zones. Critically, our findings suggest that commonly applied paleodietary interpretations of human and herbivore δ15N values have systematically underestimated the contribution of crop-derived protein to early farmer diets.
There is more information available from the School of Archaeology News page at the University of Oxford.
The BBC has an excellent summary of the latest PNAS paper to be published as part of this project, including an interview given by Amy Bogaard, which can be found here.