Documenta Praehistorica XXXIII

Neolithic Studies 13


Clive Gamble, William Davies, Paul Pettitt, Lee Hazelwood and Martin Richards

The Late Glacial ancestry of Europeans: combining genetic and archaeological evidence

Chronometric attention in the Late Glacial of Western Europe is turning from the dating of archaeological cultures to studying how the continent was re-populated at the end of the last ice age. We present results from a survey of all available radiocarbon determinations (the S2AGES database) which show that when calibrated, and compared to the GRIP stratotype of climatic events, the data can be interpreted as five population events in the 15ka prior to the onset of the Holocene. The fine-grained climate record provides an opportunity to study the impact of environmental factors on a human dispersal process that not only shaped subsequent European prehistory, but also the genetic makeup of modern Europeans. The population events have implications for archaeologists and molecular geneticists concerning the timing, direction, speed and scale of processes in Western European demographic history. The results also bear on the role of climatic forcing on the expansion and contraction of human populations and in particular the correlation of ice core and terrestrial records for the onset of warming in the North Atlantic.

Marijana Peričić, Lovorka Barać Lauc, Irena Martinović Klarić, Petra Rajić Šikanjić, Branka Janičijević and Pavao Rudan

The role of Southeastern Europe (SEE) in origins and diffusion of major paternal lineages

The aim of this study is to explore the existing data based on high-resolution phylogenetic studies of Y chromosome variation in populations from Southeastern Europe and elsewhere in Eurasia in order to evaluate the role of the region in the process of the prehistoric colonization of the European continent and the structuring of the modern paternal genetic pool. Even though the distribution and estimated range expansions of major paternal lineages in Southeastern Europe are consistent with the typical European Y chromosome gene pool, the specific role of this region in the process of structuring the European paternal genetic landscape is evident in prehistoric episodes of significant gene flow that diffused from or into the region.

Siiri Rootsi

Y-Chromosome haplogroup I prehistoric gene flow in Europe

To investigate which aspects of contemporary human Y-chromosome variation in Europe are characteristic of primary colonization, late-glacial expansions from refuge areas, Neolithic dispersals or more recent events in gene flow haplogroup I was analyzed. The analysis of Hg I Y chromosomes revealed several sub-clades with distinct geographic distributions. Sub-clade I1a accounts for most of Hg I in Scandinavia, with a rapidly decreasing frequency towards the East European Plain and the Atlantic fringe; but microsatellite diversity reveals that the Iberian Peninsula/Southern France refugial area could be the source region of the early spread of both I1a and the less common I1c. I1b* extends from the eastern Adriatic to Eastern Europe, and declines noticeably towards the southern Balkans, and abruptly towards North Italy. This clade probably diffused after the Last Glacial Maximum from a homeland in the Balkans or Eastern Europe. In contrast, I1b2 most probably arose in southern France/Iberia, underwent a post-glacial expansion, and marked the human colonization of Sardinia about 9000 years ago.

Damir Marjanović, Naris Pojskić, Belma Kalamujić, Narcisa Bakal, Sanin Haverić, Anja Haverić, Adaleta Durmić, Lejla Kovacević, Katja Drobnič, Rifat Hadziselimović and Dragan Primorac

Most recent investigation of peopling of Bosnia and Herzegovina: DNA approach

Many historical episodes marked Bosnia and Herzegovina as a significant ethnic crossroads, which makes it a very interesting site for various population studies. The first stages of these complex investigations were based on observations of numerous phenotype markers. The following phase, which was relatively brief, was dominated by the use of different cytogenetic markers. Finally, at the beginning of this century, the molecular-genetic diversity of the BiH population became the focus of modern research. Autosomal and Y-STR markers, together with mitochondrial haplogroup (Hg) diversity were initially used in the examination of isolated groups, as well as the whole population of modern Bosnia and Herzegovina. The most recent study describes the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in the three main ethnic groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and suggests a preliminary hypothesis for the process of peopling this area.

Kerstin Lidén, Anna Linderholm and Anders Götherström

Pushing it back. Dating the CCR5–32 bp deletion to the Mesolithic in Sweden and its implications for the Meso\Neo transition

Genetic variation in the chemokine receptor gene CCR5 has received considerable scientific interest during the last few years. Protection against HIV-infection and AIDS, together with specific geographic distribution are the major reasons for the great interest in CCR5 32bp deletion. The event for the occurrence of this mutation has been postulated by coalescence dating to the 14th century, or 5000 BP. In our prehistoric Swedish samples we show that the frequency of 32pb deletion in CCR5 in the Neolithic population does not deviate from the frequency in a modern Swedish population, and that the deletion existed in Sweden already during the Mesolithic period.

Mark Pluciennik

Clash of cultures? Archaeology and genetics

This paper examines the ways in which genetic data have been used to interpret the transition to agriculture in Europe over the past two decades, and the relationship of these interpretations to more strictly archaeological explanations. It is suggested that, until recently, those working within the two disciplines have been using not only different data sets and methodologies, but also working within different disciplinary traditions which have inhibited communication and collaboration, and the production of a genuinely integrated field of ‘archaeogenetics’.

Julian Thomas

Gene-flows and social processes: The potential of genetics and archaeology

During the past four decades, genetic information has played an increasingly important part in the study of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Europe. However, there sometimes seems to be a degree of disjunction between the patterns revealed by genetic analysis and the increasingly complex social and economic processes that archaeology is starting to identify. In this contribution, I point to the multiplicity of identities, subsistence regimes and patterns of social interaction involved in the introduction of the Neolithic into northern and western Europe, and consider the implications for genetic research.

Ron Pinhasi

Neolithic skull shapes and demic diffusion: a bioarchaeological investigation into the nature of the Neolithic transition

ABSTRACT – There is a growing body of evidence that the spread of farming in Europe was not a single uniform process, but that it involved a complex set of processes such as demic diffusion, folk migration, frontier mobility, and leapfrog colonisation. Archaeogenetic studies, which examine contemporary geographical variations in the frequencies of various genetic markers have not succeeded in addressing the complex Neolithisation process at the required level of spatial and temporal resolution. Moreover, these studies are based on modern populations, and their interpretive genetic maps are often affected by post-Neolithic dispersals, migrations, and population movements in Eurasia. Craniometric studies may provide a solid link between the archaeological analysis of past events and their complex relationship to changes and fluctuations in corresponding morphological and thus biological variations. This paper focuses on the study of craniometric variations between and within Pre-Pottery Neolithic, Pottery Neolithic, and Early Neolithic specimens from the Near East, Anatolia and Europe. It addresses the meaning of the observed multivariate morphometric variations in the context of the spread of farming in Europe.

Trevor Watkins

Neolithisation in southwest Asia – the path to modernity

Two questions are discussed that turn out to be related. The first was posed originally by Robert Braidwood more than fifty years ago, and concerns why farming was adopted in southwest Asia early in the Neolithic, and not earlier. The second concerns the usually opposed processualist and post-processualist approaches to the Neolithic. The paper seeks to model the processes at work through the Epi-palaeolithic and early Neolithic, showing how the trend towards sedentism and storage of food resources coincided with the emergence of fully symbolic cognitive and cultural faculties. The former fed more mouths, and led to the adoption of farming practices that further intensified food productivity. The latter made possible and desirable the symbolic construction of large, permanently co-resident communities. The spread of farming may then be understood as the expansion of a complex way of life that involved communities living together in larger groups, with denser,richer cultural environments, controlling not only the built environment of their own settlements, but also the productivity of the agricultural environments that surrounded them.

Stašo Forenbaher and Preston T. Miracle

The spread of farming in the Eastern Adriatic

The beginning of farming in the Adriatic is a topic ripe for a new discussion and synthesis. Several lines of evidence suggest that immigration played a major role in the process. It involved,however, both the actual movement of people and the active participation of the local population, and probably unfolded somewhat differently in different parts of the region. There is provocative evidence that the transition to farming occurred in a two-stage process. There was an initial stage of very rapid dispersal, perhaps by exploratory parties along the coast in the southern Adriatic. During the second stage, the eastern Adriatic littoral was probably colonized by farming communities, while the hinterland remained an agricultural frontier zone.

Krum Bacvarov

Early Neolithic jar burials in southeast Europe: a comparative approach

A typical product of early farming symbolism, jar burial, appeared in the beginning of southeast European Neolithization. Early jar burial development in south-east Europe displays two distinct chronological levels: an early Neolithic core area in the Struma and Vardar valleys and the western Rhodope, and later, late/final Neolithic and/or early Chalcolithic – depending on local terminology – manifestations ‘scattered’ in various places in the study area. It is the early chronological level of jar burial distribution that will be considered here in relation to the first expressions of these mortuary practices in Central Anatolia, in order to throw some light on the specifics of their origins and variability.

Ivana Radovanović

Further notes on Mesolithic-Neolithic contacts in the Iron Gates Region and the Central Balkans

Hunter-gatherer/farmer contact in the Iron Gates region is re-examined in view of recent archaeological research, and the social dynamics, population movements and interactions of small scale societies. Full, non-hostile interaction between hunter-gatherers and farmers in the Iron Gates region is proposed for the mid- 7th millennium calBC, followed by hunter-gatherer encapsulation at the end 7th millennium calBC. The lack of archaeological records on the Central Balkan Postglacial and Early Holocene hunter-gatherers is highlighted as a major obstacle to fully understanding cultural transformations, including the Neolithic transition, in this region.

Eszter Bánffy

Eastern, Central and Western Hungary – variations of Neolithisation models

Until recent times, the Carpathian Basin was regarded as a uniform zone of neolithization. In the last few years it has become clear that at least three different types of transitions can be distinguished in the Eastern Plain (Alföld) region: one in the Jászság area with authentic Mesolithic sites, one in the northern, one in the northeastern fringes of the Körös distribution area, and a further one in the southern part of the Danube–Tisza Interfluve where the impact of the formative Vinča culture must also be reckoned with. All regions differ from each other, concerning the contacts with Mesolithic population and the phases of neolithisation. Regarding Transdanubia, the picture becomes even more complex. The transition to the Neolithic obviously differed in each region: in the Drava valley where the Starčevo presence was very intensive, in the marshland around Lake Balaton, in the Rába valley lying close to the Alpine foreland, in the northern Transdanubian Danube valley and in the Little Hungarian Plain. Rejecting the simplifying model the assumption of a mosaic-like series of variations in the neolithisation process is offered. The process of Neolithisation is thus is far from being unified in the various regions. This short study tries to seek different models of neolithisation behind the differences.

Marek Nowak

Transformations in East-Central Europe from 6000 to 3000 BC: local vs. foreign patterns

In the sixth, fifth and fourth millennium BC, in the basins of the Vistula and the Oder, extremely complex economic, social and ideological transformations took place. They consisted in the emergence and expansion of new systems of circulating information (‘communicative communities’). The majority of these were connected with the Neolithic. The process involved a constant clash between foreign and local patterns. The latter, over time, prevailed. Hence the ultimate dominance of Neolithic communicative communities in the eastern part of Central Europe around the middle of the fourth millennium was essentially a local development. Nonetheless, a considerable portion of the territory continued to remain outside their influence. Therefore, throughout the three millennia, Mesolithic communicative communities not only gradually merged with or evolved into Neolithic ones. They also embraced such transformations, mainly concerning the material culture and ideology, which were completely independent from the advances of the Neolithic, or could have been competitive in relation to them.

Sofija Stefanović

The domestication of human birth

Observations of the burial places of newborns at the prehistoric site at Lepenski Vir (Serbia) revealed the possibility that deliveries took place inside houses that were heated. Warm houses provided a thermally stable environment which, in turn, could solve the problem of thermoregulation, that is critical for the survival of babies. In this study it is shown that the creation of these good conditions for giving birth could have been an important step in human evolution that could have led to a demographic expansion.

Mirjana Roksandic

Violence in the Mesolithic

The Mesolithic populations of the Danube’s Iron Gates Gorge (Serbia/Romania) spanned over 1500 years (from before 7000 BC to around 5500 BC) in one of the more favorable foraging environments of Europe. Over most of this period, the dominant economy was foraging, but farming was practiced by communities in the region from around 6500 BC. This research examines individuals from four sites on the Danube (Lepenski Vir, Vlasac, Padina, and Hajdučka Vodenica) whose traumatic lesions can be most plausibly interpreted as resulting from violent interactions.Given the number of individuals buried at these sites (MNI = 418), the episodes of violent interactions were few and without evidence of a specific temporal pattern. They probably represent sporadic episodes of interpersonal conflict that do not support the notion of endemic warfare deemed typical of the Mesolithic, or elevated levels of interpersonal/intertribal conflict at the time of contact with farming communities. The difference in the pattern of violence between the Mesolithic sites on the right bank of the Danube and a coeval site of Schela Cladovei on the left bank is explained in terms of differences in archaeological context, geographic location and possibly specific local histories.

Mihael Budja

The transition to farming and the ceramic trajectories in Western Eurasia. From ceramic figurines to vessels

In Eurasia the invention of ceramic technology and production of fired-clay vessels has not necessarily been related to the dynamics of the transition to farming. The invention of ceramic technology in Europe was associated with female and animal figurine making in Gravettian technocomplex. The fired-clay vessels occurred first in hunter-gatherer contexts in Eastern Eurasia a millennia before the agriculture. The adoption of pottery making in Levant seems to correlate with the collapse of the ‘ritual economy’, social decentralisation and community fragmentation in the Levantine Pre-Pottery Neolithic. In South-eastern Europe the adoption of pottery making was closely associated with social, symbolic and ritual hunter-gatherers’ practices.

Simona Petru

Red, black or white? The dawn of colour symbolism

In this paper the use of the pigments in the Paleolithic is presented, and some ideas of the symbolic meaning of colours are suggested. The colour red might have been a symbol of transformation, and as such, it was used in burials and for painting the Venus figurines. In the Slovenian Paleolithic, there is scant evidence of importance of colour and only a few finds of stones used for the grinding of the red pigment have been found.

George Nash

Light at the end of the tunnel: the way megalithic art was viewed and experienced

This cpaper explores how megalithic art may have been viewed during a period when Neolithic monuments were in use as repositories for the dead. The group of monuments discussed are primarily passage graves which were being constructed within many of the core areas of Neolithic Atlantic Europe. Although dates for the construction of this tradition are sometimes early, the majority of monuments with megalithic art fall essentially within the Middle to Late Neolithic. The art, usually in the form of pecked abstract designs appears to be strategically placed within the inner part of the passage and the chamber. Given its position was this art restricted to an elite and was there a conscious decision to hide some art and make it exclusively for the dead? In order to discuss these points further, this chapter will study in depth the location and subjectivity of art that has been carved and pecked on three passage graves in Anglesey and NW England. I suggest that an encoded grammar was in operation when these and other passage grave monuments with megalithic art were in use.

Mihály Hoppál

Shamanic and\or cognitive evolution

Many misconceptions have been associated with shamanism. Recent studies, however, show a way to reinterpret basic concepts concerning shamanism. New field data from ethnology/anthropology, and studies on cognitive evolution have provided new results to enable a reconstruction of some mechanisms which contributed to early developments in the social life and intellectual history of prehistoric people. Shamanic healing methods, simple rhythmic and motor patterns and visual/symbolic representations are the focus of this analytical paper.

Vesna Dimitrijević and Boban Tripković

Spondylus and Glycymeris bracelets: trade reflections at Neolithic Vinča-Belo Brdo

In the provision, production and exchange of prestigious items and materials in prehistoric Europe, marine shell ornaments play important role. The marine shell collection at the Vinča-Belo Brdo site is the largest in the central and northern Balkans. More than 300 ornament items manufactured from marine shells have been collected since the first excavations in 1908 up until the most recent campaign. The majority of ornaments were made using recent shells that were obtained through trade with contemporaneous Neolithic communities; few ornaments were made of fossil bivalve shells. Bracelets were the most common type. Two bivalve genera, Spondylus and Glycymeris, were used in their production. These are easily recognizable when complete valves are compared, but difficult to distinguish in highly modified items where shell morphology is obscured. The defining characteristics for shell identification are presented, particularly to differentiate ornaments manufactured from the Spondylus and Glycymeris genera, as well as those made of recent and fossil shells. The possible exchange routes for these are discussed, as well as their diachronic distribution at the Vinča site.

Dimitrij Mlekuž, Mihael Budja and Nives Ogrinc

Complex settlement and the landscape dynamic of the Iščica floodplain (Ljubljana Marshes, Slovenia)

This paper addresses the complex interactions between settlement patterns and landscape dynamics in the Iščica floodplain (the Ljubljana Marshes, Slovenia) during the early and middle Holocene. This complex interaction can be observed on many nested spatial and temporal levels. The paper examines landscape and settlement dynamics on the micro-regional scale by exploring settlement patterns and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) imagery, and on the settlement scale by analysis and radiocarbon dating of stratigraphic sequences from the Maharski prekop site.

© Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana 2005