Session: #157

Theme & Session Format

Archaeological theory and methods beyond paradigms
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

At the Fringe of Early Neolithisation – from the Coasts to the Mountains [PaM]
The long-critiqued dichotomy between Mesolithic and Neolithic lifeways hides a vast range of adaptations, transitional and mixed economies, and alternative regional trajectories. However, these remain poorly characterised, both terminologically and from an economic and social point of view.
In this session, we focus on this muddy middle part of the scale, particularly in contexts in which an adaptation of various and potentially quite diverse ‘Neolithic economic packages’ to new kinds of environments was needed (e.g. to a coastal or mountainous habitat). Such challenges required considerable economic and social adaptation and creativity. In particular, we want to ask:
- Was Neolithisation rapid or slow, and in which circumstances were different paces achieved?
- How durable and intensive were these new economic patterns?
- How can we trace them archaeologically? For instance, what would these look like in the on-site and off-site records, or in terms of plant macroremains?
- What are the preservation potentials in different regions? Are ‘incomplete Neolithic packages’ due to such taphonomic factors, or to a genuine diversity in adaptations?
- Was there a predictable sequence of adaptive steps, following logically from each other, or is there diversity? Are our chronologies at a high enough resolution to distinguish between alternative scenarios, especially were the spread is rapid (e.g. coastal colonisation)?
- Are such transformations the result of farming populations adapting their economy to a new environment, of forager populations extending their resource base, or a mixture of the two? How can we label such mixed formations?
- In how far did social formations change as a result of economic adaptations?
The aim is to compare scenarios from many different regions in order to characterise the complexity of these ‘mixed forms’ more precisely and to differentiate between alternative explanatory models. We therefore invite contributions from all geographical regions.
neolithisation, hunter gatherer, farming, periphery, adaptive steps
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
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Session associated with DGUF:
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Main organiser:
Renate Ebersbach (Switzerland) 1
Ferran Antolin (Switzerland) 2
Daniela Hofmann (Germany) 3
1. Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Baden-Württemberg
2. IPNA Universität Basel
3. Universität Hamburg, Institut für Vor- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie