The person is Christa Lesté-Lasserre.

Archaeological sediment from Abu Hureyra in Syria being

The spherulites were from Abu Hureyra.

Andrew Moore is a member of theCC-BY.

According to ancient animal dung, some hunter-gatherers may have kept sheep outside of their huts before they started farming.

Spherulites, tiny spheres of calcium found primarily in the faeces of grass-eating ruminants like cattle, sheep and antelopes, have been found outside of huts belonging to humans who lived in what is now Syria more than 12,000 years ago.

There were charred spherulites in fireplaces. This suggests that humans lived in this region approximately 2000 years earlier than previously thought and used their dung as a fuel source.

They are still hunters and gatherers, but now they are starting to bring live animals to the site and keep them for as long as they need them. It is earlier than agriculture and earlier than what we see in adjacent regions.

Smith says that ruminants release more spherulites in their faeces than omnivores.

When ancient populations first started burning animal dung as fuel it was done because it could maintain a very high heat. She was looking for spherulites, which are about 5 to 20 micrometres across, in the dust at a human settlement which was inhabited between 7800 and 13,300 years ago.

She found dark spherulites in the dust from as far back as 12,000 years ago. She found spherulites all around the outside of huts, suggesting that these people were tending to animals just outside their front doors. Around 11,000 years ago, there was evidence for crop farming in the region.

She realized that there was an opportunity to consider the antiquity of live animals on the site.

Smith says that spherulites disappeared from around the huts by the late Neolithic period. People were tending to the herds on pastures further away from the settlement. She says it seems like the opposite of what she would have expected. If you have a lot of animals, keeping them on site isn't sustainable.

Smith doesn't think the animals were domesticated. It doesn't indicate who the ruminants were. Humans are likely to keep wild animals alive by tethering them and feeding them food. The animals were eaten at the end of the day.

The journal's title is "Public Library of Science One."

The revolution in archaeology and human evolution is covered in Our Human Story.