5. Conclusions

The chronology of Neustadt (4400 cal BC to 3800 cal BC) means the site represents the oldest archaeological context in the south-western Baltic Sea region for which there is extensive evidence for harp seal hunting, and suggests a connection to the oldest harp seal population in the Baltic Sea. Bone fragmentation shows that hunting strategies were fully adapted to the social behaviour and habitat of each seal species. Two hunting seasons for grey and harp seal, one in spring and one in late autumn, could be recognised. Even if the two hunting seasons imply diversified supply targets (primarily meat and fur in spring and mainly blubber in autumn) there is no evidence of selective hunting. Most likely, the high frequencies of seals reflect their natural abundance in the region, considering that Neustadt was connected to a harp seal breeding colony. The subsistence in Neustadt during the transition to agriculture seems to remain stable. Neolithic elements such as Funnel Beaker pottery and just a few bones from domesticated cattle, sheep and goat indicate a gradual change in the economy. This observation is in accordance with the lipid analysis performed on pottery from the same archaeological context, which showed that much Funnel Beaker pottery was used to process wild terrestrial and marine resources.