Iron Age origins of European Alpine dairy farming

Chemical analysis of organic residues from pottery reveals lipids

Dairy produce from the high Alps is today of enormous economic and cultural importance to the region. The recent history of dairy farming is well-documented, but there is very little in the way of archaeological evidence to attest to its origins. Transhumance (seasonal migration of livestock between pastures) leaves few traces, and the problem is compounded by acidic soils that lead to the deterioration of faunal remains. Continue reading

Study refutes claim for early cat domestication in China

Quanhucun ‘cats’ were a different feline species

Genetic studies suggest that the domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) is descended from the Near Eastern Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica), a subspecies of the widely-distributed Old World Wildcat. The latter has been associated with humans since the early Neolithic, initially as a commensal that preyed on rodents and other pests in early faming settlements. A cat burial from Cyprus, dating to 7350 BC, shows that cats were valued by humans by this time, but domestication was a much later development. The Cypriot cat was large even for a wildcat and well above the size range for a domestic cat. Continue reading

Evidence for Neolithic dairy farming in Finland

Lipid residues from prehistoric sherds reveal transition around 2500 BC

It has long been debated whether Neolithic farming economies were ever established at the limits of modern agriculture around the 60th parallel north. Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, sustainable farming economies were established slightly to the south, in Britain, southern Norway and Sweden. In Finland, however, agriculture is problematic even today due to lower temperatures and a snow cover for several months of the year.
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Rice versus wheat agriculture could explain cultural differences within China, claim researchers

Greater interdependency found in rice-growing regions

People living in the rice-growing regions of southern China are more interdependent, loyal, and nepotistic, and less likely to divorce than their counterparts in the wheat-growing regions north of the Yangtze, according to a study published in the journal Science.
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