Research articles

Integrative approaches to the study of animal management practices during the Neolithic


The Neolithic period witnessed significant shifts in subsistence strategies across the southern Iberian Peninsula, particularly with the introduction and adoption of livestock. Despite this transformative development, there remains a notable gap in our understanding of animal management strategies, including grazing patterns, changes in foddering techniques, and their correlation with environmental factors, site characteristics, and settlement usage. In this study, members of EarlyFoods used archaeozoological data and analysed the stable isotope composition of faunal bone collagen to elucidate herding systems and management practices during the Neolithic phases IV and IIIB at El Toro Cave in Antequera, Málaga. The observed variability in stable carbon and nitrogen isotope values indicates access to distinct grazing areas and the utilization of various foddering techniques by domesticated animals. This study represents a significant contribution to our understanding of Neolithic husbandry practices, particularly in mountainous regions. By combining archaeozoological evidence with stable isotope analysis, our results not only enrich scholarly discourse on Neolithic subsistence strategies but also underscore the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in unravelling the complexities of ancient agricultural practices and their environmental implications.