, Supplement, August–October
by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved
ArchaeobotanicalEvidence for theSpread of Farming inthe EasternMediterranean
by Sue Colledge, James Conolly,and Stephen Shennan
A major topic of debate in Old World prehistory is the relativeimportance of population movement versus cultural diffusion inexplaining the spread of agriculture into and across Europe fol-lowing its inception in southwestern Asia. An important set ofdata that has surprisingly been largely absent from this debate isthe preserved crops and associated weeds of the earliest farmers.An analysis of archaeobotanical data from
aceramic Neolithicsites in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe shows thatthere are vegetational signatures that characterize the differentgeographical regions occupied by the Early Neolithic farmers. Onthis basis it is argued that the compositional similarities of thecrop package between the Levantine core, Cyprus, and Greeceare indicative of both the routes of migration of early farminggroups and the early agricultural practices of Europe’s ﬁrstfarmers.
is a postdoctoral fellow of the Institute of Ar-chaeology, University College London. Born in
, she was ed-ucated at the University of Birmingham (B.Sc.,
) and theUniversity of Shefﬁeld (Ph.D.,
). Among her publications is
Plant Exploitation on Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic Sites in the Levant
(British Archaeological Reports International Series
is Lecturer in Archaeology at the Insti-tute of Archaeology, University College London (
GordonSquare, London WC
PY, U.K. [email@example.com]). He wasborn in
and received his B.A. from the University of To-ronto in
and his Ph.D. from University College London in
. He is coauthor, with M. Lake, of
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in press).
s tephen shennan
is Professor of Theoretical Archaeology andDeputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology, University Col-lege London. Born in
, he was educated at Cambridge Uni-versity (B.A.,
). His most recent book is
Genes,Memes, and Human History: Darwinian Archaeology and Cul-tural Evolution
(London: Thames and Hudson,
). The pre-sent paper was submitted
3 iv 03
22 i 04
.[Supplementary materials appear in the electronic edition of thisissue on the journal’s web page (http://www.journals.uchicago/edu/CA/home.html).]
We thank Michael Charles, Andrew Garrard, David Harris, andﬁve anonymous reviewers who read and commented on drafts ofthis paper. We are also grateful to the staff and students of theInstitute of Archaeology, University College London, who contrib-
Explainingthetransitiontoagricultureisalong-standingand central problem in European prehistoricarchaeologythat traces its history to Gordon Childe’s (
) diffu-sionist model. In
Grahame Clark mapped the ra-diocarbon dates associated with the earliest Neolithicsites and demonstrated a cline oriented roughly north-west to southeast across Europe to the Levant, conﬁrm-ing Childe’s earlier proposals regarding the primacy ofagriculture in the eastern Mediterranean. Less than adecade later Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza (
) in-vestigated the processes underlying the expansion offarming and developed a spatial model based in part onFisher’s (
) wave of advance for advantageous genes,proposing a demic expansion of farmers of ca.
km peryear from an (assumed) origin in Jericho. Since then ithas been shown that there are regions that deviate sub-stantiallyfromthistrendsurface,notablyalongtheMed-iterranean coasts, where movement rates are faster thanpredicted, and the Iberian peninsula, which experiencesmuch slower rates of Neolithization (Cavalli-Sforza
), but the
km/year approximation has remained agood generalization of the expansion of farming com-munities across the continent. Debate continues, how-ever,astowhetherNeolithizationwascausedbyamove-ment of people or one of ideas. Recent sophisticatedquantitative analysis of the radiocarbon record hasshown that the relationship between the decline of in-digenousMesolithicpopulationsandtheﬁrstappearanceof farming communities was complex (Gkiasta et al.
). Population diffusion (e.g., through intermarriagebetween hunter-gatherer and early farming groups) andcultural diffusion independent of population movementhave been shown to give equally convincing explana-tions of the spatial and temporal patterns of Neolithicexpansion (Richards
, Bentley et al.
, Price et al.
).Thefragileconsensusis that a complex mixture of demic expansion and cul-tural diffusion was responsible for the origin and spreadof the Neolithic into Europe from its ﬁrst appearance insouthwestern Asia, although debate continues overwhich of these processes was dominant in differentregions of the continent (see, in particular, Price
).From the perspective of European archaeologists it isthe ﬁrst Neolithic communities in Greece—from about
—that mark the beginning of the process ofEuropean “Neolithization.” However, this date is nearlythree millennia after the emergence of agricultural com-munitiesintheeasternMediterranean,andNearEasternarchaeologists have shown that an expansion of earlyfarming groups throughout the Levant and into Cyprusand central Anatolia occurs well before the Neolithicﬁrst appears in southeastern Europe (Cauvin
, Pel-tenburg et al.
). With few exceptions(e.g., Perle`s
), accounts of European Neolithizationpay little more than lip-service to the substantial re-search that has been undertaken on the spread of early
uted to discussions after we presented this paper at a research sem-inar in January
All dates BC are calibrated.