Urine salts elucidate Early Neolithic animal management at Asikli Hoyuk, Turkey

Abell J. T. , Quade J., Duru G., Mentzer S. M. , Stiner M. C. , Uzdurum M. , ...More

SCIENCE ADVANCES, vol.5, no.4, 2019 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 5 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw0038
  • Title of Journal : SCIENCE ADVANCES


The process of sheep and goat (caprine) domestication began by 9000 to 8000 BCE in Southwest Asia. The early Neolithic site at Asikli Hoyuk in central Turkey preserves early archaeological evidence of this transformation, such as culling by age and sex and use of enclosures inside the settlement. People's strategies for managing caprines evolved at this site over a period of 1000 years, but changes in the scale of the practices are difficult to measure. Dung and midden layers at Asikli Hoyuk are highly enriched in soluble sodium, chlorine, nitrate, and nitrate-nitrogen isotope values, a pattern we attribute largely to urination by humans and animals onto the site. Here, we present an innovative mass balance approach to interpreting these unusual geochemical patterns that allows us to quantify the increase in caprine management over a similar to 1000-year period, an approach that should be applicable to other arid land tells.