The process of sheep and goat (caprine) domestication began by 9000 to 8000 BCE in Southwest Asia. The early Neolithic site at Aşikli Höyük in central Turkey preserves early archaeological evidence of this transformation, such as culling by age and sex and use of enclosures inside the settlement. People's strategies for managing caprines evolved at this site over a period of 1000 years, but changes in the scale of the practices are difficult to measure. Dung and midden layers at Aşikli Höyük are highly enriched in soluble sodium, chlorine, nitrate, and nitrate-nitrogen isotope values, a pattern we attribute largely to urination by humans and animals onto the site. Here, we present an innovative mass balance approach to interpreting these unusual geochemical patterns that allows us to quantify the increase in caprine management over a ∼1000-year period, an approach that should be applicable to other arid land tells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas