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Call for Papers - Neolithic food and farming systems

Organisers: Jessica Smyth and Roz Gillis
Monday 28 November 2016, British Museum, London

The management and utilisation of (mostly novel) plant and animal species for food and other products has long been recognised as a central component of the Neolithic. In recent years this area of enquiry has benefited hugely from developments in archaeological science—biomolecular archaeology especially—which continue to provide us with ever finer detail on past human-animal-environment interactions. However, the increasingly specialised nature of our archaeological investigations can make it difficult to see how these interactions fit together.

The aim of this meeting will be to take a holistic view of food and farming in the Neolithic, examining how food and food-related material culture articulated with plant and animal management strategies, and how in turn these elements affected and were affected by different environmental conditions. Why might early farming communities choose, for example, arable over pastoral farming, cattle over sheep, or wheat over barley? What might these choices lead to in terms of settlement patterns, diet, health, and cultural expression? Is Neolithic farming by default environmentally determined, or can the archaeological record provide evidence of developing ‘tastes’ that may drive certain types of food production?

We welcome contributions addressing any aspect of this food and farming web – from the contents of ancient pottery to palaeobotanical evidence, and from animal mortality profiles to stable isotope analysis of human bone. However, we ask that all speakers attempt to place their data into context and to consider how it might fit into the ‘bigger picture’ of subsistence practices and cultural identity, in so doing shedding more light on what it means to be Neolithic.

To contribute a 20 minute paper to the meeting please send title and abstract (c. 250 words) to Jessica Smyth (jessica.smyth@gmail.com) or Roz Gillis (roze.gillis@gmail.com) by 30 September 2016.

22 June 2016