Joris Peters (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Ivica Medugorac (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Stefan Krebs (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Elisabeth Kunz (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Nadja Pöllath (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Ingrid Wiechmann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Michaela Zimmermann (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Münih)

Early Neolithic Aşıklı Höyük is unique in that it allows documenting long-term human decision-making during early stage management of sheep and goat. With time, these two species became central to subsistence and the mainstay of meat procurement at Aşıklı Höyük, implying increasing human commitment. Our working hypothesis is that small livestock husbandry practices matured between ~8,350-7,500 cal. BC and that this was a key prerequisite for the dispersal of caprine pastoralism beyond Central Anatolia. Conceivably, raising sheep and goats in numbers must have been challenging in many ways, which is why our research aims at a deeper understanding of this process of ‘learning by doing’ by evaluating diachronic developments and adaptations in caprines relative to diet, mobility, and health status. Equally of interest to us is the issue of how human selection influenced the genetic make-up of sheep and goat throughout the site occupation. Finally, ecological consequences related to the emergence of caprine pastoralism will be addressed as well. Composed of scientists educated in archaeology, veterinary medicine, and biology, the Munich team applies standard archaeozoological methods as well as novel morphological, palaeopathological and biomolecular (stable isotope analysis, ancient DNA) approaches, thereby benefiting from exceptional bone preservation and statistically relevant sample size. In order to understand socio-cultural developments triggered by the intensification of the human-caprine relationship at Aşıklı Höyük, integrating our data set with the results of on-going archaeological, archaeofaunal, archaeobotanical, and geoarchaeological work will be essential.


Prof. Mary C. Stiner (University of Arizona, USA)

Prof. Natalie Munro (University of Connecticut, USA)

The research program led by Mary Stiner integrates zooarchaeological, taphonomic, geoarchaeological, and radiocarbon dating methods by a team of specialists to investigate the social and economic consequences of early caprine management Aşıklı Höyük (Levels 5-3). This research also examines changes to the human-built environment. Prior zooarchaeological research indicates a surprisingly gradual transition over about 1000 years from a broad-based meat diet to one overwhelmingly focused on caprines. Using the theoretical framework of human-animal co-evolution, this study considers how iterative problem-solving altered the conditions of selection for both humans and caprines. Such close human-animal proximity provoked novel strategies of waste and pest management, alterations in architecture and community layout, and reorganization of social institutions surrounding the exploitation of these animals. The investigation also sheds light on the “selection rules” that ultimately produced domesticated forms of sheep and goats.