Prehistoric cooking pots Early farmers were also fishing

Early Neolithic farmers in Switzerland, illustration by J. Näf

Harry Robson on board a boat with the sun near the horizon
Harry Robson
Six thousand years ago in northern Europe, the first Neolithic farmers were bumping up against Mesolithic people, who made a living hunting and fishing and gathering wild plants. Both groups of people made ceramic cooking vessels for their food, and those pots have now revealed that in many respects the diets of the two cultures were more alike than different. The hunter-gatherers were processing dairy foods, while the farmers were cooking fish and other aquatic resources.

That’s the conclusion of a massive study of more than 1000 pot fragments by 30 scientists. Harry Robson, one of the team leaders, explained the results and the light they shed onto the transition to farming.


  1. Harry K. Robson is in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. The paper we talked about is The impact of farming on prehistoric culinary practices throughout Northern Europe in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  2. Here is the transcript.
  3. Banner illustration shows early Neolithic farmers in Switzerland, by J. Näf, from this publication. Cover photograph of a pot from the Funnel Beaker culture in Denmark, made by the earliest farmers across the western Baltic, CC-BY-SA by Arnold Mikkelsen, The National Museum of Denmark.

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