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Human-cattle interactions in PPNB and Early- Middle Bronze Age Cyprus: Integrating zooarchaeological and stable isotope data [under review]


Roberts,  Patrick
Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Spyrou, A., Roberts, P., Bleasdale, M., Lucas, M., Crewe, L., Simmons, A., et al. (2023). Human-cattle interactions in PPNB and Early- Middle Bronze Age Cyprus: Integrating zooarchaeological and stable isotope data [under review]. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences [under review]. doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-2506620/v1.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-8DDD-D
Cattle domestication and subsequent spread caused unprecedented biological, economic, ecological and social transformations in human history. Cyprus was one of the first places domestic taurine cattle were transported to outside of their core domestication region, making it a “hotspot” in which to investigate cattle acclimatisation and management practices. Accumulated archaeological, iconographic and zooarchaeological evidence has shed much light on the economic and socio-ideological significance of cattle in prehistoric Cypriot society, particularly from the Early Bronze Age onwards. However, little information exists on the mechanisms through which prehistoric cattle breeders experimented with this new, large, multifunctional and symbolically potent animal. Here, we use an integrated approach that combines zooarchaeological and stable isotopic data to reconstruct human-cattle interactions and cattle management in an island context. Stable carbon (δ13C) and oxygen (δ18O) isotopes were applied to a small sample (n = 16) of cattle and caprine teeth from three key sites, including the Pre Pottery Neolithic B, when cattle were first introduced on the island, and the Early-Middle Cypriot Bronze Age, when cattle re-appeared on the island after three millennia of absence. We identified differences in patterns of isotopic variation between Bronze Age caprine and cattle, likely reflecting differences in mobility and the more intensive management of cattle (i.e. foddering). Additionally, we observe differences in the isotope values of cattle through time (Neolithic vs. Bronze Age) and therefore provide new data on animal management during key periods in Cypriot prehistory.