Tag Archives: Neolithic Europe

Possible Neolithic cannibalism in Germany

This one  is all over the news today. At a site dating to 7,000 BP in Herxheim, Germany, they have found human remains that seem to bear the signs of being butchered for meat. While this isn’t pleasant, it’s not exactly unheard of from many locations around the world. But the scale, about 500 victims- possibly up to 1000, is unusual.

That’s a lot of corpses for a tiny Stone Age village. There were 10 buildings at most here in the last phase of the Linear Pottery culture of the European Neolithic Age around 5,000 to 4,950 years BC. The corpses weren’t native to this area, researchers have discovered. They came from all over Europe — from the area of what is now Paris, from the Moselle River 100 kilometers to the northwest and even from the Elbe River valley some 400 kilometers away. The broken bits of pottery lying between their ribs reveal their origin. It’s the so-called Linear Pottery that gave the entire population group its name: decorated with linear patterns pressed into the moist clay while it was being made.

 I’d recommend going to the this news article which has a lot of images and more information than I just can’t be bothered to type in right now. The ceramics were apparently from the Paris and Elbe valley about 400 kilometres away, showing how far people had come to get to the site. 

There’s a link to the magazine the full article was in (you need to subscribe).

There’s some disagreement as to whether the people were eaten, the remains seem to have been people in good health and not killed in battle, that had been brought to the region with ceramics that were broken at the site.  It’s quite possible this was some kind of religious behaviour involving de-fleshing of the bones rather than cannibalism. This behaviour only seems to have lasted for a 50 year time span.

Note: I will get around to clearing the comments backlog- I’m down to 200 now…be patient.

Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic in Britain

Sharp shift in diet at onset of Neolithic

The introduction of domesticated plants and animals into Britain during the Neolithic cultural period between 5,200 and 4,500 years ago is viewed either as a rapid event or as a gradual process that lasted for more than a millennium. Here we measure stable carbon isotopes present in bone to investigate the dietary habits of Britons over the Neolithic period and the preceding 3,800 years (the Mesolithic period). We find that there was a rapid and complete change from a marine- to a terrestrial-based diet among both coastal and inland dwellers at the onset of the Neolithic period, which coincided with the first appearance of domesticates. As well as arguing against a slow, gradual adoption of agriculture and animal husbandry by Mesolithic societies, our results indicate that the attraction of the new farming lifestyle must have been strong enough to persuade even coastal dwellers to abandon their successful fishing practices.

From this it seems the swap from hunter gatherer to farmer in Britain was very quick, with the ancient Britons abandoning the old ways wholesale.

mesobone

The Romanian Mesolithic and the transition to farming. A case study: the Iron Gates

The Romanian Mesolithic and the transition to farming. A case study: the Iron Gates

The transition from foraging to agriculture in the last few decades has become a subject increasingly studied in academia. More complex research involving a large number of disciplines has made possible a substantial reevaluation of older concepts, but has also raised new questions and controversies. With the growing body of data from different regions of the world, it has become apparent that agriculture developed independently in more areas than was previously thought, and that the process of its geographic diffusion was much more complex than initially envisioned. The important role played by pre-Neolithic populations has come to be accepted by a growing number of archaeologists. The social and ideological implications associated with the adoption of agriculture have become more relevant, involving an association of causal factors with aspects other than economics. Regardless, questions such as why agriculture and how did it spread remain unanswered to a large degree. Most unfortunate, the body of knowledge related to the spread of agriculture in Europe
was constrained by a relative neglect of the Mesolithic period. This situation persists in many parts of the continent. Most of the data and studies come from the northern lands of Europe where many Mesolithic sites were discovered. On the other hand, the scarcity of sites in south and southeastern Europe focused most of the research on one of the richest Mesolithic archaeological locations on the continent: the Danube “Iron Gates” canyon.

A pdf with  plenty of information on the arrival of the Neolithic into Europe. It’s suggesting independent domestication of pigs in various European locations, but I don’t think it means pristine domestication, probably later ones by people already farming.

Anyone curious after reading it, Neolithic farmers made a substantial genetic ontribution to Southern Europe, but not much to Northern Europe; overall it’s about 20% (if memory serves). The ‘wave of advance’ theory of the Neolithic seems partially true, but only in Southern Europe. The paper concludes:

Besides pottery, there is no evidence for other developments associated with a food production economy. Of an extreme importance is a future pottery petrographic and chemical analysis by the excavated levels at least for Icoana and Schela Cladovei, in order to determine the earliest level with Starčevo ceramics at each site. Although all Mesolithic sites in the canyon proper are presently under water, it is not excluded that more sites may still exist on the islands of Ostrovul Banului and Ostrovul Corbului. The stratigraphy of the sites on both banks of the Danube need to be clarified and re-interpreted.

Claims for the practice of agriculture during the Mesolithic do not stand up to scrutiny, and in the archaeological strata associated with the appearance of Starčevo Neolithic in the area, agricultural implements are almost absent. There is also no evidence of domestic animals besides dog. It has been shown (A. Dinu et alii , this volume) that during Late Mesolithic no local domestication of European wild pig took place along the Lower Danube frontier between Starčevo Neolithic and the local Mesolithic cultures. It is not clear at this point when Starčevo domestic Asia Minor pigs showed up at Iron Gates, but it is more probable that it happened after 5500 BC.  Subsequently, if a replacement of the Starčevo Asia Minor domestic pigs took place in the following centuries, it is clear that Mesolithic Iron Gates played no role in wild pigs domestication North of the Danube.

As shown by the radiocarbon dates, contact between the Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic groups was chronologically possible. Still, there are no clear signs of influences in between these groups (economic exchanges, ideology religion etc.).

There is stll to be clarified the problem of the Mesolthic communities disapperance and the origins and way of penetration of the Early Neolithic.

Seeming to put the dampers on the idea of Mesolithic agriculture in Europe. However, 8,000 year old pots in Hungary and Switzerland show the remains of milk products in them , which essentially proves dairying was going on at the time then. It’s looking like the domestication of goats and sheep go back a very long time (12,000 years or more), probably somewhat longer than domesticated cattle. Another ‘however’ is that pottery appears after farming, and about 5,500 BC towns with metallurgy are found in the Balkans, so I find it hard to think that farming wasn’t in this area by then.

The Goseck circle, a Neolithic calendar in Germany

goseck-img00019

Goseck reconstruction at the winter solstice.

The circle is 75m across, and estimated at just shy of 7,000 years by pottery at the site. Also found at the site were arrowheads, the heads of oxen (once on poles) and two de-fleshed human skeletons that were burned in pits. This seems to have been a ritual site. The entire site is about 6,000 sq m.

Originally, it consisted of four concentric circles – a mound, a ditch and two wooden palisades about the height of a person – in which stood three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest and north, respectively. On the winter solstice, the sun could be seen to rise and set through the Southern gates from the centre.

The Germans recently built a reconstruction of the circle.. Article here. Iit took over 2,300 stripped oak poles to rebuild it.

Mesolithic burials in Muge, Portugal

Analysis of Burials from the New Excavations of the Sites Cabeço da Amoreira and Cabeço da Arruda (Muge, Portugal)

Mirjana Roksandic,Department of Anthropology University of Toronto
:
New excavations of the Mesolithic sites in the Muge valley directed by J.-M. Rolão, M. Roksandic and E. Cunha aim to provide finer details of spatial organization, site use and, eventually, social  organization. Within that goal, microspatial analysis of individual burials is effected to further our understanding of mortuary and ancestral rituals and their incorporation into the habitation site. Cleaning and reinforcing the profiles at the sites of Cabeço da Amoreira and Cabeço da Arruda, and the first two campaigns of the new excavations resulted in discovery of the four burials presented here. In addition, new 14C dates and isotope data are given.

The burial dates are about 7,000 years old.

Oldest Neolithic settlement in Croatia

C14 dating of early Neolithic settlement Galovo near Slavonski Brod in Northern Croatia

 Author(s)
KRAJCAR BRONIC I. ; MINICHREITER K. ;

In Northern Croatia, more than hundred settlements are known from the period of the Starcevo culture, the first Neolithic period in south-east (SE) Europe. Here we present the 14C dating of nine charcoal samples from the Neolithic settlement Galovo in Slavonski Brod. According to archaeological findings, it belongs to the early phase (Linear A) of the Starcevo culture and has a special ritual-burial area separated by two wooden fences from its residential part. The vertical stratigraphy revealed two phases of the settlement construction in period 6070-5630 cal BC. In the younger phase (5380-4960 cal BC) the settlement expanded and the burial area became smaller. Combination of archaeological findings and 14C dates thus allowed a reconstruction of the 1000-year-long existence of this settlement that existed simultaneously with the nearby settlement Zadubravlje-Duzine, dated earlier to 6000-5000 cal BC. These are the first absolute dates of the beginning of neolithization in Northern Croatia.

More on the site…

In 2005, the ninth season of systematic archaeological excavations of an Early Neolithic Starčevo culture settlement was conducted on a land called Galovo in the north-eastern part of
Slavonski Brod. The works were organised by the Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb in co-operation with the Museum of Brodsko Posavlje from Slavonski Brod, led by K. Minichreiter, Ph.D. (Minichreiter 2005, 25-30). During the excavations an area of 200 m2 was excavated, which on its southern and western sides was a continuation of the surface excavated in past years. The working pit dwelling 205/206 was completely excavated, and the excavations of the upper layers of four surrounding pit dwellings – 291/292, 323/324, 749/750 and 753/754 – started. In the follow-up settlement excavations, working pit dwelling 205/206 was uncovered with a bread oven and a pottery kiln, as well as a wooden frame and clay weights of a vertical loom. The pit dwelling had two rooms, northern and southern, and on its north-eastern side there was an entrance with two steps, each 20 cm high. In the northern part were the kiln, the oven and the loom, and in the southern part a levelled walking area and a niche (possibly a shelf) for storing things or sitting.

The pit dwelling walls on the western, southern and south-eastern side were steeply dug up to 1 m from the peripheral part of the structure. On the northern, north-eastern and eastern side
sequences of pillar holes were found, and in the middle of the pit dwelling, from NW to SE (along the longer axis) vertical wooden pillars were entrenched (with a 30-40 cm diameter) serving as the main central supports of the roof construction. At two points, rows of diagonal supports were identified as well, arranged vertically with the central structure. Along with clay vessels standard in shape and decorations, fragments of bowls were found in the pit dwelling painted white on a red background. Of specific finds, decorated bone objects, clay idols and smoothed stone axes stand out. Radiocarbon 14C analyses determined the age of the baking oven (5800-5715 cal BC) and the loom (5790-5660 cal BC), suggesting that pit dwelling 205 is somewhat older than the neighbouring pit dwellings. This is confirmed also by vessel fragments with white painted motifs, which were unearthed only in this pit dwelling out of a total of six pit dwellings excavated in this part of the settlement. In the upper layers of pit dwellings 749, 753 and 291 parts of an altar, a dog figurine – protomes on an altar, pillared idols and pottery decorated with reliefs, probably of an animal figure. Archaeological finds belong to the Linear A stage, just as in the previous works. The discovery of white painted patterns on vessels confirm the assumption made by S. Dimitrijević, who called this stage the white Linear A. This significant discovery in continental Croatia moves the white Linear
A distribution border further west, suggesting that white Linear A existed not only in eastern, but also in central Slavonia.

And here and here.

And some images of the site…
Galovo

Galovo - stove

Stove.

The very early date means this was probably one of the first neolithic settlements in Croatia- a beautiful country, and well worth a visit. The Neretva river delta in early summer looks like heaven on earth.

Ancient Germans weren’t so fair

Ancient Germans weren’t so fair

Anna Salleh in Brisbane ABC Science Online Friday, 16 July  2004

  Blond ancestors?

This girl’s ancestors may have had darker skin that didn’t burn so easily, ancient DNA suggests (Image: iStockphoto)
Researchers may be able to make more accurate reconstructions of what ancient humans looked like with the first ever use of ancient DNA to determine hair and skin colour from skeletal remains.

The research was presented today at an international ancient DNA conference in Brisbane, Australia, by German anthropologist, Dr Diane Schmidt of the University of Göttingen.

She said her research may also help to identify modern day murderers and their victims.

“Three thousand years ago, nobody was doing painting and there was no photography. We do not know what people looked like,” Schmidt told ABC Science Online.

She said most images in museums and books were derived from comparisons with living people from the same regions.

“For example, when we make a reconstruction of people from Africa we think that they had dark skin or dark hair,” she said. “But there’s no real scientific information. It’s just a guess. It’s mostly imagination.”

She said this had meant, for example, that the reconstruction of Neanderthals had changed over time.

“In the 1920s, the Neanderthals were reconstructed as wild people with dark hair and dumb, not really clever,” she said. “Today, with the same fossil record, with the same bones and no other information – just a change in ideology – you see reconstructions of people with blue eyes and quite light skin colour, looking intelligent and using tools.

“Most of the reconstructions you see in museums are a thing of the imagination of the reconstructor. Our goal is to make this reconstruction less subjective and give them an objective basis with scientific data.”

Genetic markers for hair colour

In research for her recently completed PhD, Schmidt built on research from the fields of dermatology and skin cancer that have found genetic markers for traits such as skin and hair colour in modern humans.

In particular, Schmidt relied on the fact that different mutations (known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs) in the melanocortin receptor 1 gene are responsible for skin and hair colour.

 Redhead
DNA analysis showed this skull belonged to someone with red hair (Image: Sussane Hummel)

“There is a set of SNPs that tells you that a person was a redhead and a different set of markers tell you they were fair skinned.”

She extracted DNA from ancient human bones as old as 3000 years old from three different locations in Germany and looked for these SNPs.

Her findings suggest that red hair and fair skin was very uncommon among ancient Germans.

Out of a total of 26 people analysed, Schmidt found only one person with red hair and fair skin, a man from the Middle Ages. All the other people had more UV-tolerant skin that tans easily.

She said she was excited when she “coloured in” the faces that once covered the skulls, and had even developed “a kind of a personal relationship” with one of them.

“It’s not so anonymous,” she said. “I think this is the reason why people in museums can do reconstruction because our ancestors are not so anonymous any more; they have a face you can look into.”

Unfortunately the genetic markers Schmidt used could not distinguish which of the ancient humans had blond versus black hair, and she could not determine eye colour.

But, she said she was confident that this will be possible in a few years.

Schmidt said that such research could also be used to help build up identikit pictures to help identify skeletons or criminals.

The research has been submitted for publication.

Someone posted this on my paleoanthropology group a while back. I’d just like to comment the the red hair mutation also lightens skin a fair bit, so the net difference between the skin of a Cro-Magnon with red hair and a modern European may not be all that much. I’d like to know what proportion of these old remains had red hair, as with a darker basic skin tone they would have burned less easily than modern gingers, and it could have been pretty ubiquitous amoung ancient Europeans, being used instead of the SLC245 mutation to lighten skin.

Early Europeans unable to stomach milk

Early Europeans unable to stomach milk

The first direct evidence that early Europeans were unable to digest milk has been found by scientists at UCL (University College London) and Mainz University.

In a study, published in the journal ‘PNAS’, the team shows that the gene that controls our ability to digest milk was missing from Neolithic skeletons dating to between 5840 and 5000 BC. However, through exposure to milk, lactose tolerance evolved extremely rapidly, in evolutionary terms. Today, it is present in over ninety per cent of the population of northern Europe and is also found in some African and Middle Eastern populations but is missing from the majority of the adult population globally.

Dr Mark Thomas, UCL Biology, said: “The ability to drink milk is the most advantageous trait that’s evolved in Europeans in the recent past. Without the enzyme lactase, drinking milk in adulthood causes bloating and diarrhoea. Although the benefits of milk tolerance are not fully understood yet, they probably include: the continuous supply of milk compared to the boom and bust of seasonal crops; its nourishing qualities; and the fact that it’s uncontaminated by parasites, unlike stream water, making it a safer drink. All in all, the ability to drink milk gave some early Europeans a big survival advantage.”

The team carried out DNA tests on Neolithic skeletons from some of the earliest organised farming communities in Europe. Their aim was to find out whether these early Europeans from various sites in central, northeast and southeast Europe, carried a version of the lactase gene that controls our ability to produce the essential enzyme lactase into adulthood. The team found that it was absent from their ancient bone DNA. This led the researchers to conclude that the consumption and tolerance of milk would have been very rare or absent at the time.

Scientists have known for decades that at some point in the past all humans were lactose intolerant. What was not known was just how recently lactose tolerance evolved.

Dr Thomas said: “To go from lactose tolerance being rare or absent seven to eight thousand years ago to the commonality we see today in central and northern Europeans just cannot be explained by anything except strong natural selection. Our study confirms that the variant of the lactase gene appeared very recently in evolutionary terms and that it became common because it gave its carriers a massive survival advantage. Scientists have inferred this already through analysis of genes in today’s population but we’ve confirmed it by going back and looking at ancient DNA.”

This study challenges the theory that certain groups of Europeans were lactose tolerant and that this inborn ability led the community to pursue dairy farming. Instead, they actually evolved their tolerance of milk within the last 8000 years due to exposure to milk.

Dr Thomas said: “There were two theories out there: one that lactose tolerance led to dairy farming and another that exposure to milk led to the evolution of lactose tolerance. This is a simple chicken or egg question but one that is very important to archaeologists, anthropologists and evolutionary biologists. We found that the lactose tolerance variant of the lactase gene only became common after dairy farming, which started around 9 thousand years ago in Europe.

“This is just one part of the picture researchers are gathering about lactose tolerance and the origins of Europeans. Next on the list is why there is such disparity in lactose tolerance between populations. It’s striking, for example, that today around eighty per cent of southern Europeans cannot tolerate lactose even though the first dairy farmers in Europe probably lived in those areas. Through computer simulations and DNA testing we are beginning to get glimpses of the bigger early European picture.”

Just an archived item. This does support the proposed neolithic date for the orgin of lactose tolerance (about 8,000 years).

Stonehenge builders had geometry skills to rival Pythagoras

From the Independent

By David Keys, Archaeology Correspondent.

Stone Age Britons had a sophisticated knowledge of geometry to rival Pythagoras – 2,000 years before the Greek “father of numbers” was born, according to a new study of Stonehenge.

Five years of detailed research, carried out by the Oxford University landscape archaeologist Anthony Johnson, claims that Stonehenge was designed and built using advanced geometry.

The discovery has immense implications for understanding the monument – and the people who built it. It also suggests it is more rooted in the study of geometry than early astronomy – as is often speculated.

Mr Johnson believes the geometrical knowledge eventually used to plan, pre-fabricate and erect Stonehenge was learnt empirically hundreds of years earlier through the construction of much simpler monuments.

He also argues that this knowledge was regarded as a form of arcane wisdom or magic that conferred a privileged status on the elite who possessed it, as it also featured on gold artefacts found in prehistoric graves.

The most complex geometrical achievement at Stonehenge is an 87-metre diameter circle of chalk-cut pits which mark the points of a 56-sided polygon, created immediately within the monument’s perimeter earthwork.

Mr Johnson used computer analysis and experimental archaeology to demonstrate that this outer polygon was laid out using square and circle geometry. He believes the surveyors started by using a rope to create a circle, then laid out the four corners of a square on its circumference, before laying out a second similar square, thus creating an inner octagon. The points of the octagon were then utilised as anchors for a surveyor’s rope which was used to “draw” arcs which intersected the circumference so as to progressively create the sides of a vast polygon.

Indeed, his work has demonstrated that a 56-sided polygon is the most complex that can easily be created purely through square and circle geometry using a single piece of rope.

It is likely that this basic limitation determined the number of sides of Stonehenge’s outer polygon – and may also have led to the 56-sided polygon concept becoming important within wider European religious belief. Ancient Greek classical mythology associated just such a 56-sided polygon with Zeus’s great rival for divine supremacy, the weather god Typhon.

Johnson’s research, published as a book this week, shows that Stonehenge derived its design from geometrical knowledge and features no less than six concentric polygons – a 56-sided outer one built around 2950BC; a regular octagon built around 2500BC) inside that; two concentric (though partly inaccurate) 30-sided polygons built around 1650BC, which were based on a series of hexagons; a 30-sided inner polygon (the sarsen stone ring which was built around 2500BC) also based on hexagonal geometry; and two probable 40-sided concentric polygons (probable former blue stone positions built around 2600BC) that were later modified to 30-sided ones. They also created the famous central stone “horseshoe” utilising the survey markers used to create the thirty-sided sarsen polygon.

The experimental archaeology demonstrates that most of the monument was pre-planned and that the great stones were pre-fabricated off-site and then installed by surveyor-engineers.

“For years people have speculated that Stonehenge was built as a complex astronomical observatory. My research suggests that, apart from mid-summer and mid-winter solar alignments, this was not the case,” said Mr Johnson. “It strongly suggests that it was the knowledge of geometry and symmetry which was an important component of the Neolithic belief system.”

“It shows the builders of Stonehenge had a sophisticated yet empirically derived knowledge of Pythagorean geometry 2000 years before Pythagoras,” he said.

A leading British prehistorian, Sir Barry Cunliffe, from Oxford University, believes that Anthony Johnson’s research is “a major step forward in solving the puzzle of Stonehenge”.

Which leads to the suggestion they must have had some kind of writng/numerical system at that time that we don’t know about now. Written on birch bark would be my suggestion, as that material was commonly used as paper in Europe for millenia.

Neolithic cheese making in Europe.

Neolithic Europeans Made Cheese and Yoghurt
By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News Jan. 24, 2006.

Dirty cooking pots dating to nearly 8,000 years ago reveal that some of Europe’s earliest farming communities produced dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt.

Two separate studies indicate that Neolithic dairying took place in what are now Romania, Hungary and Switzerland.  The discoveries suggest people in these regions might have originally learned how to process milk-based foods from Asian farmers.

“From a diffusionist perspective, these findings lend support to the idea that the antiquity of dairying lies with the origins of animal domestication in southwest Asia some two millennia earlier, prior to its transmission to Europe in the seventh millennia B.C., rather than it being a later and entirely European innovation,” wrote Oliver Craig, a scientist at Tor Vergata University in Rome, and colleagues in the first study published in the journal Antiquity.

Craig and his team studied fatty residues stuck on ceramic cooking vessels found at the left bank of the Danube near Romania and at the Great Hungarian Plain. The dirty pots date from 5,950-5500 B.C. Analysis of the fats suggests they belonged to goat or sheep milk.

Jorge Spangenberg, a geochemist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, indicated to Discovery News that he agreed early dairying took place.

In another paper published in the current Journal of Archaeological Science, Spangenberg and his team conducted a similar study on dirty cooking pot shards found at a site called Arbon Bleiche 3 on the southwestern shore of Lake Constance in Switzerland. The shards date to 3384-3370 B.C.

The Swiss scientists compared the carbon and nitrogen isotope signatures of the residues with those of fats found in today’s organic milks and cheeses. The residue signatures closely matched those for cow, goat and sheep milk.  Since the pots have darkened, sooty undersides from apparent placement over
fires, the researchers believe the milk was cooked and otherwise processed to keep it fresh and consumable.

“Freshly milked milk has a short life,” Spangenberg explained. “After leaving the ruminant (grazing animal) udder, milk quickly becomes colonized with bacteria, mainly lactobacilli. We therefore speculate that the
Neolithic settlers at Arbon were consuming fermented milks and making relatively long-life milk products from fermented milks, such as today’s buttermilk, yogurt, butter and cheese, which could be stored and consumed at much later dates.”

The researchers theorized that the cheese would have been similar to modern fresh goat cheese and farmer’s cheese. Sour cream also likely was produced.

Bones that belonged to domestic cows, pigs, goats, sheep and dogs also were found at the Swiss site where numerous individual family farms appear to have been located around 6,000 years ago.

Stefanie Jacomet, a professor in the Institute for Prehistory and Archaeological Science at Basel University in Switzerland, worked with Spangenberg and Jörge Schibler on the study.

She told Discovery News that the early Europeans likely did not sell or trade their dairy products with outside groups, but instead made them for their own families and communities.

“Based on the herd size, we suggest that this was a subsistence economy, and that the village was not able to produce surplus,” she said.

The villagers seemed to have eaten well, however. In addition to the animal bones, several fish bones also were excavated at the site, along with evidence for hazelnuts, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, crab apples and sloe plums.

In terms of dairying, little seems to have changed.

Spangenberg said, “Currently there are still approximately 24,000 farms in the Lake Constance region, most of them with dairy cows.”

Along with the study the news item mentions..

Chemical analyses of organic residues in archaeological pottery from Arbon Bleiche 3, Switzerland : evidence for dairying in the late Neolithic

Fatty acids distribution and stable isotope ratios (bulk δ13C, δ15N and δ13C of individual fatty acids) of organic residues from 30 potsherds have been used to get further insights into the diet at the Late Neolithic (3384-3370 BC) site of Arbon Bleiche 3, Switzerland. The results are compared with modern equivalents of animal and vegetable fats, which may have been consumed in a mixed ecology community having agrarian, breeding, shepherd, gathering, hunting, and fishing activities. The used combined chemical and isotopic approach provides valuable information to complement archaeological indirect evidence about the dietary trends obtained from the analysis of faunal and plant remains. The small variations of the δ13C and δ15N values within the range expected for degraded animal and plant tissues, is consistent with the archaeological evidence of animals, whose subsistence was mainly based on C3 plants. The overall fatty acid composition and the stable carbon isotopic compositions of palmitic, stearic and oleic acids of the organic residues indicate that the studied Arbon Bleiche 3 sherds contain fat residues of plant and animal origin, most likely ruminant (bovine and ovine). In several vessels the presence of milk residues provides direct evidence for dairying during the late Neolithic in central Europe.