Zooarchaeological evidence for early neolithic colonization at franchthi cave (Peloponnese, Greece)

Natalie D. Munro, Mary C. Stiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Franchthi Cave is a cornerstone for research on the mechanisms of the forager-producer transition in the southern Balkans region. Publications on this site have documented the geological, artifactual, and macrobotanical records, but detailed information on the faunas is lacking. This zooarchaeological study focuses on the Final Mesolithic and Initial Neolithic periods and the question of whether livestock were adopted as isolated components by late Mesolithic foragers or the site was colonized by people who possessed a fully agricultural lifestyle. Because minor stratigraphic mixing may underlie earlier perceptions of a gradual inclusion of domestic animals into the diet during the Initial Neolithic occupation, we examine this question with the help of zooarchaeological and taphonomic data. Changes in taxonomic abundance, contrasting patterns of burning damage, and caprine (sheep and goat) demographic and body-size data together reveal an abrupt shift from a broad spectrum diet during the Final Mesolithic period to a fully fledged domestic economy in the Initial Neolithic that centered on caprines, especially sheep. The caprines transported to Franchthi were small in size, and these animals were intensively managed to optimize meat production. The evidence indicates a wholesale replacement of Mesolithic economies by a Neolithic package at Franchthi Cave soon after 7000 cal BC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)596-603
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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