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Food production Modes in Neolithic Anatolia and The Neolithization of the Balkans

Food production Modes in Neolithic Anatolia and The Neolithization of the Balkans

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Published by: Katarina Simunkova on Oct 19, 2010
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Lolita Nikolova, Marco Merlini and Alexandra Comºa, eds. Circumpontica in Prehistory: Western Pontic Studies
The Anatolian Neolithic, one of the most fascinating episodes inthe socio-economic history of the Near East, continues to beinvestigated in each of the four geographically distinct regionsof Turkey. The Urfa-Diyarbakir steppe country watered by theEuphrates and Tigris river systems in southeast, the Konya-Aksaray plains in the southern Anatolian plateau, the Lakes Dis-trict in west-central Anatolia, and the Marmara basin and Turk-ish Thrace in the northwest (Yakar 1991; 1994; Özdoðan, M.1999; Özdoðan and Basgelen 1999).The process referred to by some scholars as “Neolithization”or “Neolithic way of life” could be defined as a slow socio-eco-nomic course that evolved parallel to the climatic improvementfelt during the early Holocene. As early as 10000 BP experi-mentations with sedentarization started. The reflections of theseexperimentations are hidden, among other records, in the sub-sistence related activities of the respective communities. InAnatolia, roughly delimited by the upper Tigris and lowerEuphrates, the eastern Mediterranean, the eastern Aegean, theMarmara and the Black Sea, climatic conditions favorable todry farming first transformed the eastern Taurus piedmont be-fore spreading in other directions, including the southernAnatolian plateau. The climatic improvement that started withthe early Holocene subsequently reached the Aegean coast andlater encompassed the more northerly regions of western Anatolia.Neolithization in Anatolia may have followed different tracksfrom its incipient stages. Therefore, it is logical to assume thatits stabilization and progress may have followed a different pacein each region. For instance in Cappadocia in the central pla-teau there is a clear connection between a change in the naturalenvironment and sedentism in the late ninth millennium BC. Thestart of a change from an arid steppe to grassland vegetation inca 10800 BP was due to increased humidity, which eventuallysaw the emergence of farming villages (Woldring 2002:63).Archaeologically often undetectable inter-communal prob-lems to unfavorable changes in the natural environment couldhave slowed down this process. One should take into consider-ation that economic and health related demographic problemsmay have caused temporary reversals, interruptions and renewedbeginnings in a different habitat.The economic context of the beginnings of Neolithic pro-cess that eventually led to broad-spectrum farming in Anatolia isgenerally speaking well recorded in most regions of Anatolia,and especially in the south-central plateau (Buitenhuis 2002).In the southeast too, an integral part of Southwest Asia, a num-ber of sites provide reasonably well preserved subsistencerelated documentation (Garrad 1999). These are: Hallan Çemi(Rosenberg 1999), Demirci, Çayönü (Özdoðan, A. 1999),Nevali Çori (Hauptmann 1999), Göbekli Tepe (Schmidt1998), Gürcütepe (Schmidt 1995), Cafer Höyük (Cauvin, etal. 1999), Mezraa Teleilat (Karul, Ayhan and Özdoðan 2002).Taken together they illustrate the long process of develop-ment from incipient cultivation to broad-spectrum farming.Moreover, these sites shed important light on the internaland external dynamics that sparked the Neolithization in thispart of Anatolia. Pinarbaºi, ikli (Esin and Harmankaya1999), Musular (Özbasaran 1999), Kösk Höyük (Öztan2002), Çatalhöyük (Hodder 1999; 2003; Yakar 1991), CanHassan III and I (French 1998; Yakar 1991), Erbaba (Yakar1991), Suberde (Yakar 1991), Hacilar (Mellaart 1970),Höyücek (Duru 1999), Bademaðaci (Duru 1999), Kuruçay(Duru 1994) are the principal sites of the southern AnatolianPlateau, including the Lakes District to its west. Yumuktepe-Mersin retains its importance as the representative site of thedensely settled Cilician plain.As for the presence of an Aceramic phase of the Neolithicin western Anatolia, there is as yet some meager evidencefrom sites such as Çalca in the mountainous region of Caneast of Çanakkale, and Muºlu Çeºme and Tepetarla in theBandirma plain (Özdoðan and Gatsov 1998).Orman Fidanligi, Ilipinar, Menteºe Höyük, Fikirtepe, andPendik are the main prehistoric sites that provide a ratherlimited insight into the northwest Anatolian Neolithizationprocess.Additional sites such as Keçiçayir and Kabakli are be-lieved to represent the Aceramic phase of the Neolithic pe-riod in the Eskiºehir province (Efe 1996:217). The locationof most of these sites in high terrain away from alluvial plainsindicates that their inhabitants were more involved in hunt-ing and gathering rather than cultivation of food plants oranimals (Özdoðan 1997:18; Özdoðan and Gatsov 1998).Together with Hoca Çeºme and Aºaði Pinar in Turkish Thrace,they illustrate the nature and intensity of cultural and eco-nomic interaction between Anatolia and the southern Balkansever since the sixth millennium BC.In Southeastern Anatolia, as in the rest of the “FertileCrescent” the beginning of the Neolithization process sawits expression in the appearance of sedentary or semi-seden-tary communities as early as in the late ninth/ early eighth
Jak Yakar
millennium BC (Solecki and Solecki 1983; Yakar 1991; 1994).Floral and faunal records from Early Neolithic sites in thesouthern Anatolian plateau and southeast Anatolia reflect a cer-tain but not fundamental local diversity in subsistence prac-tices prior to the appearance of fully-fledged farming econo-mies. Initially, these basically hunter-gatherer semi-sedentary/ sedentary communities derived their group-based subsistencerequirements from hunting and gathering a wide variety of ani-mals and wild plants. They also knew to supplement their foodstores by undertaking small-scale cultivation of pulses, as wasthe case for instance at Asikli Höyük, Çayönü and Cafer Höyük(Cauvin, et al. 1999:101).Early agricultural villages in Anatolia were usually estab-lished on or close to hydromorphic soils and not on free-drain-ing drier terrains. Having the capacity to retain water these areparticularly suitable for cereal agriculture since they allow cropsto grow particularly in environments exposed to the Mediter-ranean climate of warm, wet winters and hot, dry summers(Harris 1996:558). Neolithic sites in the Beysehir-Sugla andKonya Basins demonstrate that they were all located on allu-vial deposits, at the margins of fans and seasonal lakes. Asalready pointed out above, these locations were no doubt se-lected by agriculturalists because of water retentive soils. Inmany parts of the Balkans too, regional archaeological investi-gations show a consistent correlation between the distributionof early Neolithic sites and floodplains, river and lake mar-gins.
It is also possible that the earliest systems of small scaleand locally intensive cultivation in the southeast Europe, as inthe early stages of farming in Anatolia, seasonal horticulturemost likely preceded cereal agriculture.
As far as the archaeological survey evidence goes, in Greeceand in the southern Balkans, areas that saw the emergence of agricultural villages did not produce evidence that could beindicative of a Late Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic population sub-stratum. This picture could still change, but in the meantime,those supporting the demic-diffusion approach in explainingthe spread of farming from East to West often emphasize it.The cultural diversity encountered in the four geo-culturalregions of Anatolia suggests that their respective Neolithic com-munities, particularly those living in the southeast were not iso-lated or entirely self-contained. In fact, recent archaeologicalinvestigations support the view that, ethno-culturally speaking,the Neolithic society of Anatolia was not a homogenous entity.The same may be presumed for societies that inhabited the geo-graphical expanse surrounding Anatolia.Regarding the postulated movements of Neolithic farmersfrom the East towards the West, I believe that in the distantpast too village communities that were successful in maintain-ing a steady demographic and economic growth over genera-tions would not have undertaken large-scale migrations unlesssome sort of a crisis would have forced them to do so. Thereare no indications at Neolithic centers with seemingly uninter-rupted settlement sequence such as Çatalhöyük, nor in thepalaeoenvironmental records of the Konya plain ( Kuzucuoðlu2002) that suggest a major demographic or environment insti-gated crisis in the south-central plateau. Naturally, under cer-tain socio-economic conflict and stress situations not visible inarchaeological records, communities, or groups detached fromthem, would have moved out in search of new habitats to re-settle. However, to presume that such movements would havefollowed a single directional path leading from socio-economi-cally/ culturally to less developed regions, could lead to mis-conceptions in evaluating the process that led to the Neolithi-zation of the Balkans and the rest of southeastern Europe.Colonization of the southern Balkans by Anatolian farm-ers may be presumed if it can be demonstrated that the dis-semination of agriculture was in conjunction with spirituallysignificant new artistic expressions, introduction of pottery, ar-chitecture, and burial traditions, of Anatolian origin. Evenwithin the semi continent of Anatolia, a comparison betweenthe Aceramic Neolithic material culture assemblages from thewestern and central “Fertile Crescent” settlements and those of the southern Anatolian plateau (e.g. Hallan Çemi, Demirci,Çayönü, Nevali Çori, Göbekli Tepe, Gürcü Tepe, Cafer Höyükversus settlements such as Aºikli Höyük or Can Hassan III),shows some outstanding differences in social organization, pro-duction techniques and in the artistic expressions of spiritualconcepts. Moving in the direction of northwest Anatolia, ar-chaeological records from Demircihöyük, Findik Kayabaºi,Orman Fidanliði, Ilipinar, Menteºe Höyük, Fikirtepe, Pendikindicate that despite varying forms and intensity of interactionwith the central Anatolian Neolithic farmers, the latter did nothave at least initially an outstanding cultural influence overtheir northern neighbors in the Marmara basin. In view of therather varied cultural entities so far recorded in Anatolia, onewonders if the emergence of farming communities in theBalkans should be exclusively attributed to a westward dis-placement of central Anatolian farmers. In view of the rela-tively late appearance of farming communities in the north-west, it is doubtful that the area extending from the Marmarabasin to the Troad could be considered a parent or staging areathat initiated the Neolithization of the Balkans. Yarimburgazcave in eastern Thrace, is so far the only site that producedevidence for the existence of a Fikirtepe culture affiliated com-munity involved in farming (Özdoðan, Miyake and Özbasaran1991).As for hunter-gatherer communities of the early Fikirtepeculture phase that sparsely inhabited the southeastern Marmaralittoral, it is highly doubtful that they could not have played adecisive role in the diffusion of farming in a westerly direction.Their fishing, mollusk collecting, hunting and foraging activi-ties, as well as their settlement pattern, does not indicate a so-ciety in an advance stage of cultivation.
The occupation sequence revealed at the mound of Ilipinarwest of Lake Iznik provides a good insight into the culturaldevelopment during the sixth millennium BC (Roodenberg1995; 1999b). The stratified pre-EBA remains at this site com-bined with those from other well-known and partly contempo-rary settlements such as Fikirtepe (Özdoðan 1999:212-217),Pendik (Özdoðan 1983), Mentese (Roodenberg 1999a) andDemircihöyük (Seeher 1987), in a sense reflect the cultural andeconomic inclinations of late prehistoric communities in north-west Anatolia . For instance, the inhabitants of Fikirtepe-typesites in the eastern Marmara coast, although they seem to haveembraced farming probably from their southern neighbors, theirprincipal subsistence activities was based on foraging and hunt-ing (Thissen 1999:38; Özdoðan 1983). The type and simplic-ity of their domestic architecture reflect a socio-economic con-servatism no doubt derived from their Late Epipaleolithic rootsin the region. Despite some differences in subsistence econo-mies, certain material culture parallels, in certain type of ce-36
Food Production Modes in Neolithic Anatolia
ramics in particular exist between Ilipinar and cluster of Fikirtepe culture sites on the Eastern Marmara coast (Thissen1999:32). Pots with four vertically pierced knob handles andpots with two horizontal lugs (Thissen 1999:Fig.2:2-3 and 1,4) occur at both Fikirtepe and Ilipinar. Thissen believes thatpots with vertically pierced knob handles were used in the cook-ing of pulses such as lentils and bitter vetch, which both appearto have been major food stuffs at early Ilipinar. Pulses after aninitial cooking-stage, require only a limited supply of heat dur-ing cooking, just enough to keep boiling. The possibility of regulating the distance between fire and pot by means of strings,so as to control the degree of intensity, makes pots with piercedknob handles well adjusted in this respect. The two handledpots, on the other hand, could have been directly placed overthe fire, the large handles providing easy grip when lifting themfrom it (Thissen 1999:32). The inferred structural relationshipin the dominant cooking pots between Iznik and the EasternMarmara coast is present also in at least at two sites situatedfurther south and southeast; Mentese Höyük, Marmaracik andYenisehir II in the Yenisehir basin and Demircihöyük.There is no absolute certainty the founders of the first farm-ing villages in northwestern Anatolia were of central or west-central Anatolian origin. At Ilipinar, the first village (Phase X)was founded at the beginning of the sixth millennium BC(Roodenberg 1995; 1999b). The economy of the inhabitantswas fully agricultural, and among the domestic species sheepand goat were dominant (Thissen 1999:30).In the six phases following the Phase X village althoughno visible signs of disruptions in the settlement activity havebeen observed, some demographic and ethno-cultural changesduring the nearly 600 years of occupation (ca 24 generations)are well marked in the material culture. During the first 12generations of occupation at Ilipinar, freestanding single roomhouses in average measuring ca. 30m
were constructed in “post-wall” architectural tradition. In addition to these post-wallhouses with gable-shaped roofs of reed, the presence of a fewmud-slab constructions in the early phases of the village leavesno doubt that these two rather dissimilar building traditions co-existed. The post-wall architecture and the fact that in phase Xthe dead were buried as primary burials outside the houses, atradition rather alien to contemporary central Anatolian com-munities, raise the possibility that the original inhabitants of this village or at least some of them may have been Balkanaffiliated. Indeed, the ethno-cultural origin of the founders of the village is not entirely clear. When considering only thearchitectural characteristics and mortuary practices recordedin Phase X, it is hard to say that they were of central Anatolianaffiliation. Generally speaking, they rather give the impres-sion of sharing affinities with ethno-cultural entities that in-habited a more northwesterly territory extending beyond theSea of Marmara and delimited in the east by the Porsuk valley.By this, it is not implied that the founders of the village arriveddirectly from the Balkans. Presuming that the initial settlerswere not of central Anatolia affiliation, we may assume thatsoon after the foundation of the village the gradual process of acculturation within the existing ethno-cultural environmentwould have started. The time that elapsed for this process tocomplete would have depended on the nature of relations ei-ther with the indigenous inhabitants or with already accultur-ated neighboring groups. The fact that in architecture and burialmode, the so-called non-Anatolian characteristics were main-tained for a few generations indicates that the process of accul-turation may have been rather slow. Anthropological modelsindicate that in some migrations, the migrating split-off groupseventually fuse with local groups (Yakar 2003:12). In suchcases, the speed and rate of acculturation would have dependedon the social structure and size of the split-off intrusive group.A minimum of 25 kin related persons could be sufficient toform a short-term viable nucleus for an endogamous commu-nity. In the medium or long-term, small communities number-ing less than 100 persons would have faced difficulties in main-taining endogamy. A shortage of potential marriage partnerswithin an endogamous group naturally necessitates marital ex-change with other communities (Fix 1999:210-211).Thissen’s evaluation of Ilipinar archaeological records pro-vides a different identity for the founders of this village. Thissenbelieves that “despite the wide divergences between the Konyaarea and the Marmara basin in the settlement pattern, buildingmethods and stone industry, the underlying concepts as appar-ent in the manufacture, appearance and use of pottery of bothareas relate the Anatolian northwest to the Central Plateau. Thisselective parallelism in material culture is then either a func-tion of the observed discrepancy in time between both regions,or else directly related to the specific material culture variableitself, viz. pottery, to its producers, and to patterns of traditionand to know-how involved. The same selection would precludemigration from the Plateau to the Northwest, but it might re-flect exogamous marriage practices. Simultaneously, the trans-mission out of the Plateau of knowledge concerning farmingwas possibly another parallel feature of culture contact betweenÇatalhöyük and the Mesolithic population further north.”(1999).To conclude, he proposes that the first farming villages in theEskiºehir Basin such as Demircihöyük and Findik Kayabaºi(Efe 1995) were the result of Mesolithic culture contact withthe Konya area or, more probably, given the large interveningarea, were themselves settled from villages lying between theKonya and Eskisehir basins (Thissen 1999:38). The establish-ment of the three early farming sites in the Yeniºehir basin waslinked to the Eskiºehir plain although presently available datapreclude any further assessment. Thissen is in the opinion thatthe settlement of Ilipinar was settled by non-locals, perhaps byfarmers moving north from the Yeniºehir basin. Moreover, ac-cording to Thissen, there is no evidence that the initial settlerswere hunter-gatherers.During phases VII-VI to VA (ca. 5700-5500 BC) at Ilipinar,the village architecture shows changes not only in plan but alsoin construction materials; mud-brick architecture replacing thepost-wall and mud-slab constructions (Roodenberg 1999b:195). The use of mud-bricks allowed the construction of largerhouses with internal division. The question is should we at-tribute the introduction of mud-bricks and the new type of houses appearing in the second quarter of the sixth millenniumBC to a influx of central Anatolians into this region, or simplyto internal socio-economic development?In the final phase of the prehistoric village (VB), there areundisputable indications of changes both in architecture andceramic assemblages. The semi-subterranean architecture of this phase bears no resemblance to phase VA houses. More-over, the black or dark burnished rippled pottery dated to theKaranovo III period point to intrusive elements perhaps arriv-ing from the Balkans. Past migration models lead us to assumethat the territorial distance factor between geographically sepa-37

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