Investigating the beginning of animal husbandry in the Dutch wetlands through zooarchaeology, palaeogenomics, stable isotope analysis, and high-precision radiocarbon chronology

Activiteit: Academic presentationAcademic


The beginning of animal husbandry is a pivotal development in human history. The pace and nature of this development in the Dutch
wetlands is debated, with two competing models for the emergence of farming: (1) a slow integration model starting around 4700
cal BC, and (2) a rather abrupt introduction around 4000 cal BC. In both models, the appearance of small-sized cattle (Bos sp.) and
pig (Sus sp.) bones and teeth in the archaeological record is traditionally considered to mark the beginning of animal husbandry. This
univariate approach, coupled with the lack of direct dates on probable domestic specimens has hampered the investigation of the
variety of ways in which humans and animals interacted during this transitional period.
Our project ‘The Emergence of Domesticated Animals in the Netherlands’ investigates this issue with a holistic approach. We analyze cattle and pig remains in their archaeological and palaeoenvironmental context using a combination of biomolecular and biochemical analyses.
In this paper, we present the first results of our study of the Swifterbant culture sites at Hardinxveld-Giessendam in the RhineMeuse delta of the western Netherlands. These sites, which were occupied during the 6th and 5th millennium BC, yielded evidence
for the introduction of pottery production and domesticated animals. They, therefore, represent a unique case study for the investigation of what this evidence means in terms of the possibility, nature, and scale of animal husbandry in this region at this time. We
present new data from a zooarchaeological, aDNA, stable isotopic, and high-resolution Bayesian chronology study of the Hardinxveld
sites and discuss how these techniques can shed light on the biocultural and economic development of early animal husbandry in
the Netherlands.
EvenementstitelEAA Kiel 6-11 September 2021
LocatieKiel, GermanyToon op kaart
Mate van erkenningInternational