An endemic pathway to sheep and goat domestication at Aşikli Hoyuk (Central Anatolia, Turkey)

Mary C. Stiner, Natalie D. Munro, Hijlke Buitenhuis, Günes Duru, Mihriban Özbaşaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Sheep and goats (caprines) were domesticated in Southwest Asia in the early Holocene, but how and in how many places remain open questions. This study investigates the initial conditions and trajectory of caprine domestication at Aşikli H€oy€uk, which preserves an unusually high-resolution record of the first 1,000 y of Neolithic existence in Central Anatolia. Our comparative analysis of caprine age and sex structures and related evidence reveals a local domestication process that began around 8400 cal BC. Caprine management at Aşikli segued through three viable systems. The earliest mode was embedded within a broad-spectrum foraging economy and directed to live meat storage on a small scale. This was essentially a "catch-and-grow" strategy that involved seasonal capture of wild lambs and kids from the surrounding highlands and raising them several months prior to slaughter within the settlement. The second mode paired modest levels of caprine reproduction on site with continued recruitment of wild infants. The third mode shows the hallmarks of a large-scale herding economy based on a large, reproductively viable captive population but oddly directed to harvesting adult animals, contra to most later Neolithic practices. Wild infant capture likely continued at a low level. The transitions were gradual but, with time, gave rise to early domesticated forms and monumental differences in human labor organization, settlement layout, and waste accumulation. Asikli was an independent center of caprine domestication and thus supports the multiple origins evolutionary model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2110930119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 25 2022


  • Forager-producer transition
  • Mortality patterns
  • Pre-Pottery Neolithic
  • Sheep and goat management
  • Zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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