The Beginning of Dutch Animal Husbandry: Chronology, Nature, Impact


The beginning of animal husbandry is a pivotal historic process, with unprecedented consequences for the culture and natural environment of Europe, and beyond. Traditionally the transition from hunting to animal husbandry is analysed on the basis of the morphological characteristics of animal bones from archaeological excavations. The ‘third science revolution’ in archaeology has opened up radically new avenues of research, including ancient DNA, isotopic analysis, and statistical analysis of radiocarbon dates. A combination of these approaches allows us to better understand human–animal relations (aDNA and isotopes) and mobility (isotopes) within an improved chronological framework (Bayesian statistical modelling of new, high-precision radiocarbon dates). This research uses these methodologies on one of the classic European case study areas for the transition to farming: the wetlands of the Netherlands. This region presents a unique dataset from exceptionally well-preserved sites spanning the transition phase (c. 5000–3500 cal. BC), with large sample sizes obtained from recent excavations.
The proposed research is urgently needed. While the global research community acknowledges the relevance of our region in the study of the transition to farming (as exemplified in textbooks on the European Neolithic and in many articles of a comparative nature), the atypical nature of the Dutch narrative (a millennium-long transitional phase during which hunting and animal husbandry coexist) is now being questioned (e.g. Rowley-Conwy, 2013). The lack of modern analyses threatens to push our case study area into oblivion.





Prof. dr. D.C.M. Raemaekers

Verbonden aan

Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Faculteit der Letteren, Groninger Instituut voor Archeologie


01/09/2019 tot 01/09/2022