Dating the Earliest Evidence of Farming and Animal Husbandry in the Dutch Wetlands

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


The beginning of farming and animal husbandry in the Dutch wetlands has long been debated due to ambiguity in the domestication status of local species (Sus and Bos), a shortage of reliable chronologies for keystone sites, and a 300-year calibration plateau which spans the timeframe in which these developments likely occurred. As a result, the Netherlands remains a noticeably blank spot on the Neolithization map of northwestern Europe. In response, our team has conducted an extensive interdisciplinary project on the key sites, combining paleogenomics, stable isotope studies, zooarchaeology, and radiocarbon dating coupled with Bayesian modelling. Here, we report the results of a chronological study on the Swifterbant S3 and S4 sites, which contain the oldest known evidence of cereal cultivation and animal husbandry in the Dutch wetlands. Our findings draw upon the results of new paleodietary research, revealing the earliest dietary management of Sus and Bos, as well as ancient DNA confirming the presence of domestic haplotypes in cattle. To overcome the calibration plateau, we radiocarbon dated sequences of charred naked barley seeds from occupation layers across the sites and employed intricate Bayesian modelling. Our outputs significantly narrow down the temporal span achievable by individual dates and demonstrate that S3 and S4 were occupied for a remarkably short period of time. Our results indicate that farming and animal husbandry began before 4000 BCE in the Dutch wetlands, predating similar patterns in Scandinavia and the British Isles, and represent an important contribution to the debate on this transition in northwestern Europe.

Evenementstitel24th Radiocarbon Conference
: 10th 14C & Archaeology Conference
LocatieZurich, SwitzerlandToon op kaart
Mate van erkenningInternational