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The discovery of one of the oldest farming communities in Europe that used domesticated animals was reported by Susan Allen, a professor in the University of Cincinnati (UC) Department of Anthropology and Ilirjan Gjipali of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology at the UC web site on April 16, 2012. The research will be presented April 20 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA).
Vashtëmi, located in southeastern Albania, is one of the earliest known Early Neolithic farming sites ever discovered in Europe and dates to 6500 B.C. Photographs of the site can be seen at the UC News web site here.
Evidence from the dig site indicates that prehistoric Albanian farmers grew emmer, einkorn and barley. These earliest of farmers were also documented to have raised pigs, cattle, sheep and goats that are assumed by the researchers to have been acquired from other areas of the Near East.
The archeological evidence unearthed so far indicates the availability of other sources of food like deer, wild hogs, and fish as well as the water sources were a primary factor in the Early Neolithic Albanians choice of the area. Framing was in its infancy at the time and was not considered a primary factor in the choice of the site as a home by Early Neolithic Albanians but the wetland nature of the area actually improved the capabilities of these first European farmers.
This is the first such discovery in Albania. The discovery was the first made as a cooperative effort between scientists from Spain, France, Greece Albania, and the United States under the auspices of the Southern Albania Neolithic Archaeological Project (SANAP).