Pigs and humans in Early Neolithic South-eastern Europe

New zooarchaeological and stable isotopic data from late 7th-early 6th millennium BC Džuljunica-Smărdeš, Bulgaria

  • Donna de Groene Leiden University
  • Petar Zidarov New Bulgarian University
  • Nedko Elenski Regional Museum of History, Veliko Tarnovo
  • Youri van den Hurk University College London; University of Groningen
  • Thijs van Kolfschoten Leiden University
  • Canan Çakirlar University of Groningen
Keywords: Neolithic, Bulgaria, zooarchaeology, pig domestication, stable isotopic analysis


The Bulgarian site Džuljunica-Smărdeš, dating to 6205-5529 cal. BC, is one of the oldest Neolithic sites in Europe. Both domestic cattle and caprines are present in the zooarchaeological assemblage, but Sus, in contrast, is extremely rare. It is not known if the earliest Neolithic people in Europe did rear domestic pigs, practised some form of pig management, or only hunted wild boar. This research investigates the human pig relationships, using biometry, kill-off patterns and isotopic dietary analysis. With this integrated methodological approach, it might be possible to characterize human-suid relationships in this pivotal Early Neolithic site with greater accuracy. Understanding this relationship at this site contributes to the broader debate on how Neolithisation and domesticates spread through Europe, and which bio-cultural mechanisms were responsible for differential patterns of animal exploitation.


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How to Cite
de GroeneD., ZidarovP., ElenskiN., van den HurkY., van KolfschotenT., & ÇakirlarC. (2018). Pigs and humans in Early Neolithic South-eastern Europe. Documenta Praehistorica, 45, 38-51. https://doi.org/10.4312/dp.45.4