Faire gras à Molène: dairy products and ruminant fats detected by lipid and isotopic analysis of pottery dating to the Final Neolithic-Early Bronze Age from the island site of Beg ar Loued (Molène, western Brittany, France)

Camielsa PRÉVOST, Akshyeta SURYANARAYAN, Yvan PAILLER, Clément NICOLAS, Thierry BLASCO, Arnaud MAZUY, Pauline HANOT, Yvon DRÉANO, Catherine DUPONT & Martine REGERT

en Comptes Rendus Palevol 23 (1) - Pages 1-30

Published on 15 January 2024

The subsistence strategies of early farming communities have been highlighted since the beginning of the Neolithic, thanks to numerous studies on lipid residues from ceramic vessels conducted in various parts of continental Europe. However, after the Early Neolithic, evidence of subsistence strategies along the northern Atlantic coast are still lacking, especially for island contexts. This paper presents the results of lipid residue analysis of 129 potsherds from Beg ar Loued (Molène, France), an island site dating primarily to the Early Bronze Age (c. 2700-2600 to 1800 BCE). Aiming to understand the use of vessels, vessel treatment and culinary practices on the settlement, analyses of visible charred residues, sherds and ceramic surfaces/coating layers were carried out using chromatographic (n = 174) and isotopic techniques (n = 24) after lipid extraction by solvent (n = 174) or acid methanolysis (n = 31). The results demonstrate the extensive use of terrestrial products (ruminant carcass and dairy) in pottery, including occasional plant products (with possible mixtures of different waxes), while the detection of aquatic products is limited. Thus, combined with evidence from faunal remains at the site, the results indicate that terrestrial resources like ruminant meat and dairy products were preferentially processed in vessels, and aquatic products mostly without the use of ceramics. These findings demonstrate the significance of lipid residue analysis for studying the role of pottery in food production and consumption at sites along the Atlantic coast.


Lipids, pottery, Final Neolithic, Early Bronze Age, France, Atlantic coast

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