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Thread: Emergence and intensification of dairying in the Caucasus and Eurasian steppes

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    Emergence and intensification of dairying in the Caucasus and Eurasian steppes

    Dairying in the Caucasus and Eurasian steppes

    Abstract


    Archaeological and archaeogenetic evidence points to the Pontic–Caspian steppe zone between the Caucasus and the Black Sea as the crucible from which the earliest steppe pastoralist societies arose and spread, ultimately influencing populations from Europe to Inner Asia. However, little is known about their economic foundations and the factors that may have contributed to their extensive mobility. Here, we investigate dietary proteins within the dental calculus proteomes of 45 individuals spanning the Neolithic to Greco-Roman periods in the Pontic–Caspian Steppe and neighbouring South Caucasus, Oka–Volga–Don and East Urals regions. We find that sheep dairying accompanies the earliest forms of Eneolithic pastoralism in the North Caucasus. During the fourth millennium BC, Maykop and early Yamnaya populations also focused dairying exclusively on sheep while reserving cattle for traction and other purposes. We observe a breakdown in livestock specialization and an economic diversification of dairy herds coinciding with aridification during the subsequent late Yamnaya and North Caucasus Culture phases, followed by severe climate deterioration during the Catacomb and Lola periods. The need for additional pastures to support these herds may have driven the heightened mobility of the Middle and Late Bronze Age periods. Following a hiatus of more than 500 years, the North Caucasian steppe was repopulated by Early Iron Age societies with a broad mobile dairy economy, including a new focus on horse milking.

    Link:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-022-01701-6

    If I am understanding the authors correctly then sheep pastoralism spread from the South (Caucasus) onto the Steppes.

    Btw, in this paper they are analyzing unpublished samples from the Neolithic-Eneolithic Steppe. Can´t wait to finally have a paper about them.

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    You beat me to it; I was just about to post it! :)

    I thought it used to be proposed that the steppe people got their domesticated animals from the farmer of Europe. Perhaps this just means the South Caucasus?

    I'll have to read it more carefully and see if there is a more detailed explanation.


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    Regular Member Anfänger's Avatar
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    Next time, Angela. :)

    I think the origin of domesticated animals in the steppe because of this paper is up to debate now.

    When Pontic–Caspian steppe populations first began dairying and how their animal management strategies may have influenced their mobility and subsequent migrations remain poorly known. From the Mesolithic through the Eneolithic, populations living in the southern Russian plain and Caucasus region primarily hunted local wild game, which included aurochs (Bos primigenius), saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica), red deer (Cervus elaphus), tarpan (Equus ferus), onager (Equus hemionus) and wild boar (Sus scrofa), as well as birds, fish and molluscs28,29,30,31. Animal husbandry of domesticated sheep (Ovis aries), goats (Capra hircus), cattle (Bos taurus) and pigs (Sus scrofa) spread to the North Caucasian steppe from Anatolia during the fifth millennium BC by either a circum-Pontic route28 or by crossing the Caucasus mountains from the south32,33,34,35. By the mid-fifth millennium BC, agropastoralists of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture in Ukraine were regularly interacting with steppe populations north of the Black Sea36, and Eneolithic populations genetically related to South Caucasian and Anatolian agropastoralist groups had become established in the North Caucasus piedmont steppe32,33,37 and were part of a broader Mesopotamian interaction sphere38,39.
    They are a little vague but by circum-pontic they probably mean from the European farmers? ... so they are not 100% sure if domesticated animals were from the south (Caucasus) or from the west (Europe).

    Edit: They are referring to the Northern Caucasian Steppe, not the entirety of the steppe, my bad.

    Sheep based pastoralism and dairying

    In the Caucasus and Southern Steppe:

    North of the Caucasus mountains, within a geographically and culturally contiguous region that encompasses the piedmont zone, steppe and southern Russian plain, we analysed dietary proteins within the dental calculus proteomes of 27 individuals, including three Eneolithic, 23 Bronze Age and one Early Iron Age individual. Overall, we identified milk proteins in 96% of individuals (n = 26) (Fig. 1c) and observed high levels of milk protein PSMs per individual (mean 47 ± 27; Supplementary Data 3), with milk peptides often being among the most abundant peptides identified in the dental calculus proteomes. Among Eneolithic individuals, two of three were positive for milk proteins. The oldest individual from this region in our study, PG2001 from the piedmont site of Progress 2 and dated to 4338–4074 BC, indicates that dairying has been a feature of the region’s economy since at least the late fifth millennium BC. During the fourth and third millennia BC, we observed a continued reliance on dairying among all analysed Maykop and Steppe Maykop individuals (ca. 3900–2900 BC; n = 7), both in the piedmont and steppe zones as well as in all Yamnaya individuals (ca. 3300–2500 BC; n = 3). Notably, we detected only Ovis milk proteins at Eneolithic, Early Maykop, Late Maykop, Steppe Late Maykop and early Yamnaya sites, suggesting that dairying was a specialized activity focused on sheep during the fourth and fifth millennia BC (Fig. 3a,b). At the start of the early third millennium BC, we identified a broad shift in pastoralist practices towards more diversified dairying based on sheep, goat and cattle milk (Fig. 3c,d). Milk proteins from these three ruminant species were identified among individuals associated with the late Yamnaya (ca. 2850–2500 BC; n = 1), NCC (ca. 2800–2400 BC; n = 4), Catacomb (ca. 2800–2400 BC; n = 1), late NCC (ca. 2200–1650 BC, n = 1) and Lola/post-Catacomb (ca. 2200–1650 BC; n = 6) cultures, with most individuals having consumed the dairy products of two or three different animal milks in the form of sheep and goat milk, sheep and cattle milk or sheep, goat and cattle milk (Fig. 1 and Supplementary Data 3). Finally, during the Early Iron Age (eighth–fifth centuries BC), we observed the incorporation of horse (Equus) milk into the dairy economy (Fig. 3e), with Ovis, Capra, Bos and Equus milk proteins identified in the dental calculus of individual MK5018.
    In the steppes Oka-Volga-Don:

    In the Oka–Volga–Don region, we analysed dietary proteins within the dental calculus proteomes of seven individuals dating from the Eneolithic through the Middle Bronze Age (Fig. 1c and Supplementary Data 3). Despite excellent protein recovery, no milk proteins were detected in an individual from the Neolithic–Bronze Age site of Ksizovo 6, dating to 5837–5670 BC, nor from individuals associated with the Sredny Stog culture (n = 2) at the Eneolithic–Bronze Age site of Vasilevsky Kordon 27, dating to ca. 3600–3100 BC. Milk proteins were also absent from individual RAV002, dating to 3514–3356 BC, and from two Middle Bronze Age individuals from the Shagara cemetery, dating to 2572–1893 BC. Only an individual at the site of Rovenka tested positive for milk proteins. This individual, RVK001, was associated with a late Catacomb culture site, dating to 2339–2148 BC, and was positive for sheep (Ovis), goat (Capra) and cattle (Bovinae) milk proteins (Fig. 1c).
    This is interesting, apparently late Sredny Stog and earlier steppe cultures were not focused on milk at all while Maykop/Steppe Maykop/Eneolithic southern steppe and early Yamanya all practiced sheep dairying.

    Another thought... maybe domesticated animals came from both sides, Europe and Caucasus, the European side was more focused on meat and animal sacrifices while the Caucasus side was more sheep based pastoralist including dairying.
    Last edited by Anfänger; 08-04-22 at 21:21.

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    1 members found this post helpful.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anfänger View Post
    Next time, Angela. :)

    I think the origin of domesticated animals in the steppe because of this paper is up to debate now.



    They are a little vague but by circum-pontic they probably mean from the European farmers? ... so they are not 100% sure if domesticated animals were from the south (Caucasus) or from the west (Europe).

    Sheep based pastoralism and dairying

    In the Caucasus and Southern Steppe:



    In the steppes Oka-Volga-Don:



    This is interesting, apparently late Sredny Stog and earlier steppe cultures were not focused on milk at all while Maykop/Steppe Maykop/Eneolithic southern steppe and early Yamanya all practiced sheep dairying.

    Another thought... maybe domesticated animals came from both sides, Europe and Caucasus, the European side was more focused on meat and animal sacrifices while the Caucasus side was more sheep based pastoralist including dairying.
    I think perhaps the only way they could be more definitive is by studying the animal remains themselves to see if there are differences in heredity based on the sources, i.e. cultures like Cucuteni and other farmer cultures, or the Caucasus.

    It's interesting because the Balkan Neolithic was reliant on all these animals, i.e. sheep, goats, and cows as well, although the cow was highly prized, especially for feasting. To the best of my recollection a lot of it was dependent on local conditions as to the percentage of which animal's bones were highest at which site. I also think the dairy remains they found certainly included cow's milk.

    I think I'm leaning toward the sheep, at least, coming from the Caucasus. Sheep and goats can thrive almost anywhere, although goats in particular are very destructive of the grass.

    I don't know if you remember it, but we discussed in the past whether the J "Southern" CHG/Iran Neo "like" people went onto the steppe before or after the domestication of sheep and goats south of the Caucasus. Even if they weren't yet domesticated when they started their migration, trade routes could certainly have brought them.

    ED. I see you edited your post. So, some domesticated animals, including sheep, could have been brought in from Europe, and some over the Caucasus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I think perhaps the only way they could be more definitive is by studying the animal remains themselves to see if there are differences in heredity based on the sources, i.e. cultures like Cucuteni and other farmer cultures, or the Caucasus.

    It's interesting because the Balkan Neolithic was reliant on all these animals, i.e. sheep, goats, and cows as well, although the cow was highly prized, especially for feasting. To the best of my recollection a lot of it was dependent on local conditions as to the percentage of which animal's bones were highest at which site. I also think the dairy remains they found certainly included cow's milk.

    I think I'm leaning toward the sheep, at least, coming from the Caucasus. Sheep and goats can thrive almost anywhere, although goats in particular are very destructive of the grass.

    I don't know if you remember it, but we discussed in the past whether the J "Southern" CHG/Iran Neo "like" people went onto the steppe before or after the domestication of sheep and goats south of the Caucasus. Even if they weren't yet domesticated when they started their migration, trade routes could certainly have brought them.

    ED. I see you edited your post. So, some domesticated animals, including sheep, could have been brought in from Europe, and some over the Caucasus.
    I was too hasty, i thought they were referring to the entirety of the steppe but they are only referring to the North Caucasus Steppe.

    Yes, i agree. Only DNA from domesticated animals can proof an origin from either the Caucasus or Europe. I know David Anthony is proposing a origin from Europe. Although, it looks like sheep dairying was introduced to Eneolithic Southern Steppe from the North Caucasus while Sredny Stog and previous cultures on the steppe further north were not focused on milk at all. At least, no milk proteins were found in the teeth of individuals belonging to Sredny Stog. I think that domesticated animals were probably used for meat and animal sacrifices in Sredny Stog.

    There is confusing evidence coming from papers about the Neolithic in Eastern Europe, some argue for a early introduction of domesticated animals while other papers dispute this. See here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...40618219300126. Whether HGs or pastoralists, I think that the Reich lab and Max Planck have already important samples from the Neolithic steppe.

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    Couple of points from recent papers and Yamnaya. Milk from horses can be made into Koumis, consumed by Bashkirs. Cow milk can be used to make yougurt, Kefir drink. Oldest evidence of dairy consumption is PG 2001-(R1b-V1636 used to model Caucasus Yamnaya),Lacking Anatolian ancestry. Repin-Turganik Yamnaya horses are classified as Dom2(Pablo Librado et al). Cattle milk consumption was found in Yamnaya Zolotarevka site- Bronze age. Yamnaya site Kriviyonska IX from late bronze age has evidence horse milk consumption. Horse from Catacomb culture have not yet been tested(40 horse burial).
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    I don't know how many times it has to be said. Consuming dairy products doesn't mean you have the LP alleles, and it doesn't mean you're drinking milk.

    Please read the following, which has links to the relevant papers and also quotes and graphs about LP in steppe people.
    https://www.eupedia.com/forum/thread...m-malnutrition

    If you're talking about the 1915 Allentoft et al paper you'll see it was incorrect. If you're talking about the paper which came out recently and touted how the steppe people were eating dairy and perhaps drinking milk, there's a separate thread for it. I contacted them. They have no way of knowing if the people drank milk. All they found was dairy calculus, just like all the other studies. They also didn't test for the LP alleles, although I doubt they'd get a different result than Burger et al.

    The Burger paper is two years old. You'd think it would have made the rounds by now, but I guess it hasn't.

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    Emergence and intensification of dairying in the Caucasus and Eurasian steppes

    Sample ID / genetic sex (M/F): PG2001 / M
    Find location: Progress 2
    Country: Russia
    Associated label in publication: Eneolithic steppe
    Date: 4991-4178 BCE (C14)
    MtDNA haplogroup (mother): I3a
    Y-DNA haplogroup (father): R1b1
    Reference: Wang et al. 2018
    Colour group: EHG
    Comments: c. 63% EHG-related and 37% CHG-related ancestry (not from Majkop)
    I0443 is Z2103>Z2108 negative(L23+) and can be modeled with 64% PG 2001.

    https://amtdb.org/sample/I0443

    [IMG] identifier I0443 alternative_identifiers ['SVP57'] country Russia continent Europe region Pontic steppe culture Yamnaya epoch Bronze Age group YAM comment - latitude 53.380001068115234 longitude 50.38999938964844 sex M site Lopatino, Sok River, Samara site_detail Site II mt_hg W3a1a ychr_hg R1b1a1a2a year_from -3300 year_to -2700 date_detail 3300-2700 BCE[/IMG]



    Subsequent attempts to clarify the agropastoralist economy using stable isotope analysis41,48 have yielded equivocal results as to whether dairying was an Eneolithic or Bronze Age innovation in the North Caucasus. Here, through the identification of taxonomically informative peptides from the milk-specific protein BLG, we confirmed sheep milk consumption by Eneolithic individuals at the sites of Progress 2 and Kurganny 1. Notably, we found that dairy consumption was evident among individuals lacking Anatolian ancestry, such as PG200133, demonstrating that the adoption of dairying by North Caucasian transitional foragers was already underway during the late fifth millennium BC, which precedes Yamnaya expansions by a millennium.





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