What was inside? Lipid residue analysis on grave gifts manifest the ritual status of cattle in Neolithic societies in Northern Germany.

March 20, 2019

GrabbeigabenIn the 4th millennium BC, domestic animal husbandry became an integral part of the Neolithic economy in the North German lowlands and southern Scandinavia. An increasing importance of domesticated animals as well as a concentration on the husbandry of certain animal species can be observed. At the same time, this phenomenon is linked to changing intensities of land-use strategies, and the increasing importance of domestic animal husbandry is also changing social practices within societies.
Lipid analyses by the CRC 1266 on highly decorated and ornamented ceramic vessels from a passage grave (Wangels LA 69) of the Funnel Beaker societies revealed that these vessels contained predominantly cattle fat and dairy products. Additionally, a fatty acid distribution indicative for Sea Buckthorn oil was found in samples from Globular Amphora, which have served as an exclusive burial gift. Contrary, the pots from the contemporaneous domestic site Oldenburg-Dannau LA 77 contained a mixed composition of plant and milk resources. Thus, the exclusive use of cattle meat in the burial indicate the important role of cattle in the ritual and spiritual sphere of Neolithic societies in northern Germany and Southern Scandinavia.

Weber, J., Brozio, J. P., Mller, J., Schwark, L. 2020. Grave gifts manifest the ritual status of cattle in Neolithic societies of northern Germany. Journal of Archaeological Science 117, 105122. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105122

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