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Life in the Neolithic era

  • The home was an important nexus of activities such as flint knapping (shaping), hideworking, woodworking, and pottery production for Neolithic people, the first humans who farmed the land and lived in substantial domestic buildings. We know this because of the work of researchers such as Dr Ben Chan, who has analysed tools from houses, such as this one in Orkney, Scotland, to find out what changes people went through when they shifted from hunting-and-gathering to farming. He is being funded by EU’s Marie S
  • In the Neolithic settlement of Durrington Walls, in southern England, scientists have managed to use a new soil analysis technique to match particular soil properties to specific sites in the home. EU-funded archaeologist Dr Alexandre Lucquin analysed 500 soil samples from house floors of well-known Neolithic settlements near Stonehenge in England. As expected, he found that soil taken from the hearth and midden – a place used to store domestic rubbish - contained more animal fats than other areas. This res
  • Far from relying exclusively on farming, hunting was still prestigious among the Neolithic people, according to Dr Esther López-Montalvo, who has concluded this after she used new techniques to record rock paintings from 7 000 years ago. She says that, instead of being economically important as it was during the Mesolithic era, Neolithic hunting became about masculine prestige. Thanks to an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant, Dr López-Montalvo has used new ways of analysing pigments, made use of new tools such
  • Sadly, most Neolithic fashion items perished long ago but researchers from the Centre for Textile Research at Denmark’s University of Copenhagen are hopeful that they can recreate some of the textiles. Backed by an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant, Dr Kalliope Sarri is analysing tools such as spindle whorls for spinning thread and animal bones used for weaving to reconstruct textiles. Images courtesy of Athens National Archaeological Museum
  • Dr Sarri has turned to pottery, such as a cup which is over 7 300 years old, to find out that geometrical, pixelated designs were particularly popular. It is important for her to know what patterns Neolithic people would have used as this would have changed the way they weave cloth. Image courtesy of the Volos museum
  • In a storage deposit from a 9 000- to 7 000-year-old settlement at Çatalhöyük, south-central Turkey, researchers found pairs of emmer wheat grains that had been stored as spikelets - pairs of grains that are left over in chaff after wheat has been threshed. These particular grains had become carbonised, most likely from a moderately hot fire that lasted between four and 24 hours, which preserved them and protected them against microbial attack. This preservation allows researchers, such as Dr Amy Bogaard, w