Tag Archives: Neolithic expansion

Tracing the Origin and Spread of Agriculture in Europe

Tracing the Origin and Spread of Agriculture in Europe
Ron Pinhasi1*, Joaquim Fort2, Albert J. Ammerman3

1 School of Human and Life Sciences, Whitelands College, Roehampton University, London, United Kingdom, 2 Departament de Fisica, E.P.S. P-II, Universitat de Girona, Campus de Montilivi, Catalonia, Spain, 3 Department of Classics, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, United States of America

The origins of early farming and its spread to Europe have been the subject of major interest for some time. The main controversy today is over the nature of the Neolithic transition in Europe: the extent to which the spread was, for the most part, indigenous and animated by imitation (cultural diffusion) or else was driven by an influx of dispersing populations (demic diffusion). We analyze the spatiotemporal dynamics of the transition using radiocarbon dates from 735 early Neolithic sites in Europe, the Near East, and Anatolia. We compute great-circle and shortest-path distances from each site to 35 possible agricultural centers of origin—ten are based on early sites in the Middle East and 25 are hypothetical locations set at 5° latitude/longitude intervals. We perform a linear fit of distance versus age (and vice versa) for each center. For certain centers, high correlation coefficients (R > 0.8) are obtained. This implies that a steady rate or speed is a good overall approximation for this historical development. The average rate of the Neolithic spread over Europe is 0.6–1.3 km/y (95% confidence interval). This is consistent with the prediction of demic diffusion (0.6–1.1 km/y). An interpolative map of correlation coefficients, obtained by using shortest-path distances, shows that the origins of agriculture were most likely to have occurred in the northern Levantine/Mesopotamian area

Personally, I’d go for Zagros/southern Turkey, but it’s close enough. I’m okay with the ‘ time at which the spread began can be estimated, under the same hypothesis of linearity (straight fits in Figure 2), to fall within the interval of 9,000–10,500 years before present (BP; uncalibrated years) or 10,000–11,500 BP (calibrated years)’; as domesticates turn up at about 10,500 in Cyprus, which would suggest the expansion started prior to then, which would suggest domestication of animals could be as much as 11,500 years old in the Mesopotamian area. This also bring the temple at Gobekli Tepe into the very early Neolithic (11,500 BP), although the rye at Abu Hureyra is still a bit of a problem to a simple, single start to the Neolithic.

Pinhasi and Pluciennik [26], in their analysis of craniometric affinities between populations, point to the homogeneity between Çatal Höyük and early Neolithic Greek and south-eastern European groups. This homogeneity contrasts with the pronounced heterogeneity found among other Pre-Pottery Neolithic groups in the Near East. On the basis of these results, they hypothesize that a founder population from central Anatolia (represented by specimens from Çatal Höyük) spread into south-east and central Europe. The results of the shortest-path analysis of the POAs could be consistent with their position, since they suggest that Çatal Höyük falls in the region adjacent to the one with the maximum R-values

We concur with Özdoan’s assertion that “an unbiased reassessment of the evidence strongly implies that there were multiple paths in the westward movement of the Neolithic way of life” ([36], pp. 51–52). Aceramic Neolithic levels at sites on Cyprus (late ninth millennium BC [calibrated]), Crete and the Argolid (eight and early seventh millennia BC [calibrated]) are strongly suggestive of an initial population dispersal wave from one or more centers in the Near East [37]. At the present time, it is unclear whether farming reached south-east Europe by means of a secondary demic expansion from Anatolia or as a continuation of the initial dispersal involving Cyprus, Crete, and mainland south-east Greece. In any event, Figure 3B does provide, at this stage of research, spatial information regarding differing grades of likelihood for tracing the origins of agriculture.

Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Late Tripolye culture as the inventors of wheeled vehicles

Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Late Tripolye culture as the inventors of wheeled vehicles: Linguistic and archaeological considerations

Suggesting the Cucuteni-Tripolye as the source of PIE. Something I did wonder once after seeing a pretty old wheeled toy from that area. They were the most advanced civilisation (not too strong a word, they had small cities) of Neolithic Europe, and were one of the first cultures to use metal.

Cucuteni-Trypillian cow-on-wheels, 3950-3650 B.C

One of the more interesting points from it was that word for wheel you find in other languages seems to have a root in the PIE word to turn/rotate. As far as I know, the worlds oldest wheel is 5,300 BP, dragged up from a Slovenian Marsh.

Jim Mallory (1989: 163), on the other hand, goes a long way towards the here proposed solutionwith the following observations:

“Tomas Gamkrelidze and Vyach[e]slav Ivanov… have noted that … Proto-Indo-European *kwekwlo- bears striking similarity to the words for vehicles in Sumerian gigir, Semitic *galgal-, and Kartvelian *grgar. With the putative origin of wheeled vehicles set variously to Pontic-Caspian, Transcasucasia or to Sumer, we may be witnessing the original word for a wheeled vehicle in four different language families. Furthermore, as the Proto-Indo-European form is built on an Indo-European verbal root *kwel- ‘to turn, to twist’, it is unlikely that the Indo-Europeans borrowed their word from one of the other languages. This need not, of course, indicate that the Indo-Europeans invented wheeled vehicles, but it might suggest that they were in some form of contact relation with these Near Eastern languages in the fourth millennium BC.”

Since the Trypillians weren’t that far at all from the steppes area, I can see this might have some validity. The Dniester site is just in my ‘had wheels’ at the right time zone, and the timing isn’t massively far off. This might allow a compromise between the 9,000 BP ‘first farmers’ and 5,500 BP ‘Kurgan’ theory, as they probably did speak the languge of the expanding farmers; that part of the world had a respectable demic wave from Turkey appear in it.


Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe

Y-chromosomal evidence of the cultural diffusion of agriculture in southeast Europe

The debate concerning the mechanisms underlying the prehistoric spread of farming to Southeast Europe is framed around the opposing roles of population movement and cultural diffusion. To investigate the possible involvement of local people during the transition of agriculture in the Balkans, we analysed patterns of Y-chromosome diversity in 1206 subjects from 17 population samples, mainly from Southeast Europe. Evidence from three Y-chromosome lineages, I-M423, E-V13 and J-M241, make it possible to distinguish between Holocene Mesolithic forager and subsequent Neolithic range expansions from the eastern Sahara and the Near East, respectively. In particular, whereas the Balkan microsatellite variation associated to J-M241 correlates with the Neolithic period, those related to E-V13 and I-M423 Balkan Y chromosomes are consistent with a late Mesolithic time frame. In addition, the low frequency and variance associated to I-M423 and E-V13 in Anatolia and the Middle East, support an European Mesolithic origin of these two clades. Thus, these Balkan Mesolithic foragers with their own autochthonous genetic signatures, were destined to become the earliest to adopt farming, when it was subsequently  introduced by a cadre ofmigrating farmers from the Near East. These initial local converted farmers became the principal agents spreading this economy using maritime leapfrog colonization strategies in the Adriatic and transmitting the Neolithic cultural package to other adjacent Mesolithic populations. The ensuing range expansions of E-V13 and I-M423 parallel in space and time the diffusion of Neolithic Impressed Ware, thereby supporting a case of cultural diffusion using genetic evidence.

ydna clustering ymaps

Most relevant /interesting bits from my POV

Hg J is most common (B50%) in the Middle East and Anatolia,27,29,47 with a spread zone spanning from northwest Africa to India.12,55 It has been related to different Middle Eastern migrations.12,56 In addition to Hg J-M410, Hg G-P15 chromosomes, which are also common in Anatolia,29 have been implicated in the colonization and subsequent expansion of early farmers in Crete, the Aegean and Italy.38,46 – 48 Earlier studies have concluded that the J-M410 sub-clades, J-DYS445-6 and J-M67, are linked to the spread of farming in the Mediterranean Basin,38,47 with a likely origin in Anatolia.29 Interestingly, J-DYS445-6 and J-M92 (a sub-lineage of M67), both have expansion times between 7000 and 8000 years ago (Table 1), consistent with the dating of the arrival of the first farmers to the Balkans. The first detection of milk residue in ceramic pottery occurs in sites from northwest Anatolia 7000–8500 years ago,58 an age that approximates the Hg-expansion times.


On the other hand, the expansion times of Hg V13 (Table 3) are consistent with a late Mesolithic time frame. The Greek Mesolithic, although different in its material culture from the Natufian Mesolithic of the Levant, bears some resemblance to the Mesolithic of southern Anatolia. 60 This archaeological congruence between the Mesolithic of the Balkans and southern Anatolia may mirror the similar E-V13 expansion times observed for Konya, Franchthi Cave and Macedonian Greece, all approximately 9000 years ago. Moreover, E-V13 YSTR-related data from Bulgaria and Macedonia,28 both with a variances of 0.28, suggest an expansion time of approximately 10 000 years ago. It is likely that the origin of V13 occurred somewhere
within the zone of these sample collections. In addition, it is also worth noting that in the Anatolian region of supposed Einkorn wheat origin , only one V13 chromosome out of 43 is found (PA Underhill, unpublished data). Therefore, as no evidence at present supports the association of E-V13 Hg with the attested origin of farming in southeast Anatolia, the possibility of farming adoption by Balkan E-V13- associated people is plausible.

I’d like to comment that a possibly V13 people migrated into Southern Greece from Anatolia in the Mesolithic into Francthi cave, although the expansion is a good deal early than the dates given (always treat Y chr dating with scepticism) at 13,500 BP. Although this still sees V13 in the Mesolithic, as observed, and within the range for Francthi cave given at 9.4 +/- 4.3 ky.

Konya-Turkeyc (10)                                             9.4 ± 2.9
Macedonian Greecec (8)                                     8.5 ± 4.5
Nea Nikomedeia (North Greece) (6)               8.6 ± 4.0
Seklo and Dimini (Central Greece)d                4.3 ± 1.8
Lerna and Franchthi Cave (S.Greece)             9.2 ± 4.3

Observing that the older numbers here seem to match the migrations, it would seem V13 entered Conya about 12,000 years ago. But my provisional dates on the domestication of lentils and vetch seem to predate this ( about 14,000 years min) so it seems v13 carriers didn’t bring agriculture into Turkey, and the paper comments that M78 isn’t common in Southern Turkey where the first domesticates come from.But attributing the northwards move of M78 to the Mesolithic isn’t correct, about 22k ago is the date for the Egyptian derived Kebaran to arrive in the Levant.

Compare this to the dates for the JM241..

Turkey               10.1 3.4
Albaniad           5.4±2.5
FYROM              2.4 1.2
Greece                2.9±1.2
Central Italy     5.8±1.4
Apulia                 9.6 3.4
Sicily                   10±5.4

Although it does have some suspiciously old dates for Sicily. But I’d agree with the paper that I-M243 shows a nice match to the spread of the Neolithic.

The Romanian Mesolithic and the transition to farming. A case study: the Iron Gates

The Romanian Mesolithic and the transition to farming. A case study: the Iron Gates

The transition from foraging to agriculture in the last few decades has become a subject increasingly studied in academia. More complex research involving a large number of disciplines has made possible a substantial reevaluation of older concepts, but has also raised new questions and controversies. With the growing body of data from different regions of the world, it has become apparent that agriculture developed independently in more areas than was previously thought, and that the process of its geographic diffusion was much more complex than initially envisioned. The important role played by pre-Neolithic populations has come to be accepted by a growing number of archaeologists. The social and ideological implications associated with the adoption of agriculture have become more relevant, involving an association of causal factors with aspects other than economics. Regardless, questions such as why agriculture and how did it spread remain unanswered to a large degree. Most unfortunate, the body of knowledge related to the spread of agriculture in Europe
was constrained by a relative neglect of the Mesolithic period. This situation persists in many parts of the continent. Most of the data and studies come from the northern lands of Europe where many Mesolithic sites were discovered. On the other hand, the scarcity of sites in south and southeastern Europe focused most of the research on one of the richest Mesolithic archaeological locations on the continent: the Danube “Iron Gates” canyon.

A pdf with  plenty of information on the arrival of the Neolithic into Europe. It’s suggesting independent domestication of pigs in various European locations, but I don’t think it means pristine domestication, probably later ones by people already farming.

Anyone curious after reading it, Neolithic farmers made a substantial genetic ontribution to Southern Europe, but not much to Northern Europe; overall it’s about 20% (if memory serves). The ‘wave of advance’ theory of the Neolithic seems partially true, but only in Southern Europe. The paper concludes:

Besides pottery, there is no evidence for other developments associated with a food production economy. Of an extreme importance is a future pottery petrographic and chemical analysis by the excavated levels at least for Icoana and Schela Cladovei, in order to determine the earliest level with Starčevo ceramics at each site. Although all Mesolithic sites in the canyon proper are presently under water, it is not excluded that more sites may still exist on the islands of Ostrovul Banului and Ostrovul Corbului. The stratigraphy of the sites on both banks of the Danube need to be clarified and re-interpreted.

Claims for the practice of agriculture during the Mesolithic do not stand up to scrutiny, and in the archaeological strata associated with the appearance of Starčevo Neolithic in the area, agricultural implements are almost absent. There is also no evidence of domestic animals besides dog. It has been shown (A. Dinu et alii , this volume) that during Late Mesolithic no local domestication of European wild pig took place along the Lower Danube frontier between Starčevo Neolithic and the local Mesolithic cultures. It is not clear at this point when Starčevo domestic Asia Minor pigs showed up at Iron Gates, but it is more probable that it happened after 5500 BC.  Subsequently, if a replacement of the Starčevo Asia Minor domestic pigs took place in the following centuries, it is clear that Mesolithic Iron Gates played no role in wild pigs domestication North of the Danube.

As shown by the radiocarbon dates, contact between the Mesolithic and the Early Neolithic groups was chronologically possible. Still, there are no clear signs of influences in between these groups (economic exchanges, ideology religion etc.).

There is stll to be clarified the problem of the Mesolthic communities disapperance and the origins and way of penetration of the Early Neolithic.

Seeming to put the dampers on the idea of Mesolithic agriculture in Europe. However, 8,000 year old pots in Hungary and Switzerland show the remains of milk products in them , which essentially proves dairying was going on at the time then. It’s looking like the domestication of goats and sheep go back a very long time (12,000 years or more), probably somewhat longer than domesticated cattle. Another ‘however’ is that pottery appears after farming, and about 5,500 BC towns with metallurgy are found in the Balkans, so I find it hard to think that farming wasn’t in this area by then.

A Neolithic Arabian house


A group of stone houses nearly 7,000 years old have been found on Abu Dhabi’s Western island of Marawah. They are the oldest buildings of their type ever discovered in the United Arab Emirates.

The discovery was made by an ADIAS team working in association with the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, ERWDA, who are responsible for management of the island’s wildlife and environment as part of the Marawah Marine Protected Area, MMPA.

During work at a site known as MR-11 in spring 2003, ADIAS examined a group of stone mounds, and uncovered three buildings. One of these structures was fully excavated and revealed a well-constructed house with stone walls still surviving to a height of almost a metre in some places.

During the excavations, a fine flint spear and flint arrowhead were found, as well as a fragment of a stone pestle, probably used for grinding food item


Pottery from the site

Fragments of sheep or goat bone were found at the site, which would put their existance in the UAE about 7,000 years ago.

7,000 year old settlement on Marawah island

Second link

Oldest Neolithic settlement in Croatia

C14 dating of early Neolithic settlement Galovo near Slavonski Brod in Northern Croatia


In Northern Croatia, more than hundred settlements are known from the period of the Starcevo culture, the first Neolithic period in south-east (SE) Europe. Here we present the 14C dating of nine charcoal samples from the Neolithic settlement Galovo in Slavonski Brod. According to archaeological findings, it belongs to the early phase (Linear A) of the Starcevo culture and has a special ritual-burial area separated by two wooden fences from its residential part. The vertical stratigraphy revealed two phases of the settlement construction in period 6070-5630 cal BC. In the younger phase (5380-4960 cal BC) the settlement expanded and the burial area became smaller. Combination of archaeological findings and 14C dates thus allowed a reconstruction of the 1000-year-long existence of this settlement that existed simultaneously with the nearby settlement Zadubravlje-Duzine, dated earlier to 6000-5000 cal BC. These are the first absolute dates of the beginning of neolithization in Northern Croatia.

More on the site…

In 2005, the ninth season of systematic archaeological excavations of an Early Neolithic Starčevo culture settlement was conducted on a land called Galovo in the north-eastern part of
Slavonski Brod. The works were organised by the Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb in co-operation with the Museum of Brodsko Posavlje from Slavonski Brod, led by K. Minichreiter, Ph.D. (Minichreiter 2005, 25-30). During the excavations an area of 200 m2 was excavated, which on its southern and western sides was a continuation of the surface excavated in past years. The working pit dwelling 205/206 was completely excavated, and the excavations of the upper layers of four surrounding pit dwellings – 291/292, 323/324, 749/750 and 753/754 – started. In the follow-up settlement excavations, working pit dwelling 205/206 was uncovered with a bread oven and a pottery kiln, as well as a wooden frame and clay weights of a vertical loom. The pit dwelling had two rooms, northern and southern, and on its north-eastern side there was an entrance with two steps, each 20 cm high. In the northern part were the kiln, the oven and the loom, and in the southern part a levelled walking area and a niche (possibly a shelf) for storing things or sitting.

The pit dwelling walls on the western, southern and south-eastern side were steeply dug up to 1 m from the peripheral part of the structure. On the northern, north-eastern and eastern side
sequences of pillar holes were found, and in the middle of the pit dwelling, from NW to SE (along the longer axis) vertical wooden pillars were entrenched (with a 30-40 cm diameter) serving as the main central supports of the roof construction. At two points, rows of diagonal supports were identified as well, arranged vertically with the central structure. Along with clay vessels standard in shape and decorations, fragments of bowls were found in the pit dwelling painted white on a red background. Of specific finds, decorated bone objects, clay idols and smoothed stone axes stand out. Radiocarbon 14C analyses determined the age of the baking oven (5800-5715 cal BC) and the loom (5790-5660 cal BC), suggesting that pit dwelling 205 is somewhat older than the neighbouring pit dwellings. This is confirmed also by vessel fragments with white painted motifs, which were unearthed only in this pit dwelling out of a total of six pit dwellings excavated in this part of the settlement. In the upper layers of pit dwellings 749, 753 and 291 parts of an altar, a dog figurine – protomes on an altar, pillared idols and pottery decorated with reliefs, probably of an animal figure. Archaeological finds belong to the Linear A stage, just as in the previous works. The discovery of white painted patterns on vessels confirm the assumption made by S. Dimitrijević, who called this stage the white Linear A. This significant discovery in continental Croatia moves the white Linear
A distribution border further west, suggesting that white Linear A existed not only in eastern, but also in central Slavonia.

And here and here.

And some images of the site…

Galovo - stove


The very early date means this was probably one of the first neolithic settlements in Croatia- a beautiful country, and well worth a visit. The Neretva river delta in early summer looks like heaven on earth.

Figs were grown before cereal crops in Israel.

Ancient Fig Find May Push Back Birth of Agriculture

Scott Norris
for National Geographic News

June 1, 2006
An assortment of 11,400-year-old figs found in Israel may be the fruit of the world’s earliest form of agriculture, scientists say.

Archaeologists from Israel and the United States say the find suggests Stone Age humans may have been cultivating fruit trees a thousand years before the domestication of cereal grains and legumes, such as peas and beans.

“Previously, the oldest cultivated fruits were thought to be olives and grapes found in the eastern Mediterranean that were dated at about 6,000 years old.

Researchers behind the new study discovered the ancient figs at the Gilgal archaeological site in the Jordan Valley near the city of Jericho (see map of Israel.)

The nine carbonized figs were small but ripe and showed signs of having been dried for human consumption.

The finding adds a new twist to the story of agricultural origins.

The so-called agricultural revolution—when ancient humans began to domesticate crops—is now increasingly seen as a long and multifaceted transition, as humans gradually shifted from scattered planting of wild grains to farming with domesticated varieties.

Early-agriculture specialist Mordechai Kislev, of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, says fig cultivation may amount to a previously unknown phase of this transition, fitting between the sowing of wild grains and the raising of domesticated cereal crops.

“Domestication of the fig seems to comprise a new stage,” Kislev said.

Kislev is the lead author of the new study, along with Anat Hartmann, also of Bar-Ilan, and Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University.

The researchers report their findings in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Science

The researchers’ case that the Gilgal fruits were deliberately cultivated rests on an idiosyncrasy of fig genetics.

Normally, pollination by specialized wasps is required for fig trees to bear edible fruit.

Occasionally, however, a mutation occurs that allows fruit to develop from unfertilized female flowers, a process known as parthenocarpy.

Some figs grown commercially today are of this variety. Apparently, so were the Stone Age figs at Gilgal.

Microscopic analysis revealed that the figs lacked embryonic seeds, a distinguishing feature of the mutant form, in which fruit are produced without pollination.

“The mutation does not survive in nature more than a single generation,” Kislev said.

That means the fig trees at Gilgal could not have been reproducing naturally.

The large cache of fruit fragments recovered from the site suggests that humans were maintaining the mutant trees by planting live branches in the ground.

Kislev says fig trees are particularly amenable to this common horticultural technique, called vegetative propagation.

Additional fig remains have been recovered from other sites throughout the Middle East, and at least some appear to be of the Gilgal variety.

To Kislev, this suggests that choice trees were being transported and planted to increase agricultural yield at different locations.

Constant Gardeners

“The early propagation of fig trees, if true, has a rather important effect on the way we view the Neolithic [or Late Stone Age],” said archaeologist Joy McCorriston, of Ohio State University in Columbus.

The Neolithic is a loosely dated period of cultural development marked by the invention of agriculture, improved stone stools, and sedentary village life.

McCorriston notes that although planting shoots of fig trees may be simple, early fig farmers would have had to wait several years for their reward.

This suggests relatively long-term ties to land and perhaps new social and economic arrangements prior to the full-scale adoption of an agricultural lifestyle.

“Ownership of trees [may have] provided a way of mapping society onto physical space,” McCorriston said.

As objects of long-term interest and care, fig trees may also have had symbolic significance.

Archaeologist Bruce Smith of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., says early fig cultivation is indicative of a general atmosphere of experimentation following the last ice age.

“Human societies were auditioning a wide range of species” for a role in the unfolding drama of agriculture, Smith said.

There’s a link to the abstract here.

This would be inthe very last days Natufian era, just as they were winding down. The Naufians had some population affinities to Nubian populations, but by this point in time this was being diluted to the point of being undetectable by input from other Eurasian populations; after the Natufian era no sub Saharan affinities are seen (C Loring Brace) and no Sub Saharan affinities are seen in any other Neolithic population of the time, including North Africa. The 11,000 BP is the point in time when Israel starts moving into the pre pottery Neolithic (PPN), and probably marks the point at which expanding proto-agriculturalists from Turkey reached Israel. 

I’ve seen a few indications that trees were planted before any other crops… hazelnuts in northern Europe, pistachio and almond in Turkey/Armenia. It’s a only small step for a hunter gatherer to stick a few nuts in the ground; either as some sort of religious rite or from the realisation that the more nut trees he plants the more nuts there will be when his kids grow up.

The order of domestication, (my best guess): nut trees at some very ancient time, then pulses about 15,000 years ago in Turkey, reaching Franchthi cave  (Greece) about 13,500 BP. Cultivated cereals turn up about 2,000 years later in Franchthi, even wild cereals are 500 years later than the nuts and pulses. I guess figs were probably in orchards before domesticated grains reached the middle east.

Neolithic skull shapes and demic diffusion.

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

Link broke, only HTML available!

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.

Fig. 2. Principal components analysis of craniometric measurements
of skulls from Early Neolithic sites.

This is another study that suggests an Anatolian center of dispersal for the Neolithic. It’s well worth a read if you are interested in the Natufians and other ancient farming groups from the neolithic. Interestingly, it observes that the Anatolians of Catal Hoyuk seem very different to thsoe of Cayonu.

Özdogan (1997) points out that the Neolithic communities of the Central Anatolian plateau form a distinct entity which differs from the south-eastern Anatolian, Levantine and Mesopotamian contemporaneous cultures in settlement pattern, architecture, lithic technology, bone tools, and other archaeological aspects. There is no simple corollary between specific cultural-archaeological entities and biological populations. However, in the case of the above analyses, the population of Çatahöyük differed biologically from the populations of the Near East and southeast Anatolia and were similar to the SKC and Nea Neikomediea cultures. Indeed in a previous publication (Pinhasi 2003), it was demonstrated that the Squared Mahalanobis Distance between Çatalhöyük and Çayönü is twice to three times the average distance between the former and any of the Early Neolithic southeast or central European Early Neolithic populations. The above analysis therefore confirms the archaeological observations made by Özdogan (1997) and reaffirms in this specific case a correspondence between cultural boundaries that define a prehistoric culture and its biological basis.

This would seem to support a population ‘boundry’, between the expanding Natufians (later Belbasi/Beldibi) with their moderate affinities to sub Saharan Africans, and the indigenous Eurasian people of Anatolia. It also states..

There are no grounds for believing that the settlement of mainland Greece, either by land or sea, can be compared with the slow movements of populations characteristic of the Cardial or Danubian ‘waves of advance’. On the contrary, it seems to relate to these long-distance expeditions, well exemplified in the Mediterranean by the colonisation of Crete, Corsica and the Balearic Iislands, for instance” (Perlès 2001).

However, the craniometric analysis indicates no morphological differences between Nea Nikomedeia and the Çatalhöyük populations, which contrasts with the differences between these and the PPN Levantine/ Anatolian samples.


It appears that a Neolithic dispersal from the Near East/Anatolia to Europe may have occurred at least twice: once as a PPN maritime expansion from the Levant/southern Anatolia, and later on during the Pottery Neolithic period as an overland dispersal from Central/Western Anatolia to southeast Europe (Perlés 2001; Özdogan 1997). This means that more than one founder Neolithic population dispersed out of the Near East/Anatolia to Europe, and that each
dispersal event must have left certain demographic and genetic signatures on modern Europeans.

Which supports other evidence from Franchthi and the cave of the Cyclops about sea colonisations from ancient Anatolia all through the Med (elsewhere on blog), with a slower overland colonisation following. That you have two very distinct populations present in Anatolia might explain how both Indo European and Afro Asiatic languages apparently expanded out from Turkey at about the same time (IE from the plateau Anatolians, and the Natufian derived AA speaking Southerners).

C.Loring Brace commented that all the sub Saharan traces vanished from the Levant about the time of the neolithic expansion, so it seems probable that the majority of the ancestry of the expanding wave of colonists was from the plateau Anatolians, not the Natufian’s descendants in the south.

The rapid replacement of Mesolithic people by Neoltihic farmers in the Mediterrainean

Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact
Melinda A. Zeder*
+Author Affiliations

Archaeobiology Program, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013
Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, and approved May 27, 2008 (received for review March 20, 2008)

The past decade has witnessed a quantum leap in our understanding of the origins, diffusion, and impact of early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin. In large measure these advances are attributable to new methods for documenting domestication in plants and animals. The initial steps toward plant and animal domestication in the Eastern Mediterranean can now be pushed back to the 12th millennium cal B.P. Evidence for herd management and crop cultivation appears at least 1,000 years earlier than the morphological changes traditionally used to document domestication. Different species seem to have been domesticated in different parts of the Fertile Crescent, with genetic analyses detecting multiple domestic lineages for each species. Recent evidence suggests that the expansion of domesticates and agricultural economies across the Mediterranean was accomplished by several waves of seafaring colonists who established coastal farming enclaves around the Mediterranean Basin. This process also involved the adoption of domesticates and domestic technologies by indigenous populations and the local domestication of some endemic species. Human environmental impacts are seen in the complete replacement of endemic island faunas by imported mainland fauna and in today’s anthropogenic, but threatened, Mediterranean landscapes where sustainable agricultural practices have helped maintain high biodiversity since the Neolithic.

Also from Zeder:

Until the early 1990s Cyprus was thought to have been colonized ca. 8,500 B.P. by a derived offshoot of fully established Neolithic mainland cultures (48). The new sites, however, date 2,000 years earlier (10,500–9,000 B.P.) and document the arrival of early pioneers hypothesized to have originated somewhere in the Northern. Traveling the 60 km to Cyprus by boat, these colonists transported the full complement of economically important mainland fauna (50). including all four major livestock species (sheep, goat, cattle, and pig).

Recent archaeological evidence from the Aegean, for example, no longer supports a model of gradual in-place transition of ancestral Mesolithic cultures into Neolithic cultures (53–55). Instead, there appears to have been a sharp decline in Late Mesolithic population levels, combined with the sudden appearance of radically different Neolithic settlements in previously unoccupied locations. As on Cyprus, recent work in the Aegean argues for the arrival of maritime colonists who, at ca. 9,000 to 8,000 B.P., carried many components of the full Neolithic package (plant and animal domesticates, new lithic traditions, and, perhaps a bit later, pottery) . Following a leapfrog pattern, these seafaring pioneers established farming communities that selectively focused on favorable environments in coastal Greece and on various Aegean

They argue that Neolithic lifeways were introduced into the Italian peninsula ca. 8,000 B.P. by maritime colonists who first established farming villages on the Apulian ‘‘boot heel’’ region of southeastern Italy (Fig. 2). These traditions appear in northwest coastal Italy ~200–300 years later (ca. 7,800–7,600 B.P.). In southern France, a compelling case can be made for a marked geographic, ecological, and cultural break between interior Mesolithic settlements and coastal Neolithic colonies (58) Recent excavation of a coastal settlement in southern France, dating to 7,700– 7,600 B.P. and characterized as a beachhead colony of seafaring migrant farmers from mainland Italy, has yielded pottery, domestic sheep, einkorn, and emmer wheat (59).

Having discounted evidence for piecemeal cultural diffusion of various elements of Neolithic economy and their selective adoption by indigenous Mesolithic populations in the western Mediterranean, Zilha˜o (61, 62) has gone on to demonstrate that, as in other parts of the Mediterranean Basin, the Late Mesolithic of the Iberian Peninsula was a period of population decline and relocation.

Also as elsewhere, Neolithic settlements with apparently fully formed agro-pastoral economic systems suddenly appear in the Iberian Peninsula as coastal enclaves occupying limestone based soils abandoned by earlier Mesolithic peoples.

Thus it appears that none of the earlier models for Neolithic emergence in the Mediterranean accurately or adequately frame the transition. Clearly there was a movement of people westward out of the Near East all of the way to the Atlantic shores of the Iberian Peninsula. But this demic expansion did not follow the slow and steady, allencompassing pace of expansion predicted by the wave and advance model. Instead the rate of dispersal varied, with Neolithic colonists taking 2,000 years to move from Cyprus to the Aegean, another
500 to reach Italy, and then only 500–600 years to travel the much greater distance from Italy to the Atlantic

As far as I can tell this colonisation wave originated in Turkey, and spread far and wide, across the North of Africa (Capsian culture) and into Northern India (Harappans) and all over Southern Europe. This is supported by  observations by C loring Brace that the neolithic population expansion seemed to have originated in the Eastern Med area, not from the Natufians of Israel/ Jordan. The set off point for the Francthi cave colonisation is thought ot be the Belbasi area in southern Turkey, but that is sometime before the later colonistation wave (about 500 years).

Just a C Loring Brace paper mentioning the neolithic expansion.

Clines and Clusters Versus “Race:” A Test in Ancient Egypt and the Case of a Death on the Nile

The biological affinities of the ancient Egyptians were tested against their neighbors and selected prehistoric groups as well as against samples representing the major geographic population clusters of the world. Two dozen craniofacial measurements were taken on each individual used. The raw measurements were converted into C scores and used to produce Euclidean distance dendrograms. The measurements were principally of adaptively trivial traits that display patterns of regional similarities based solely on genetic relationships. The Predynastic of Upper Egypt and the Late Dynastic of Lower Egypt are more closely related to each other than to any other population. As a whole, they show ties with the European Neolithic, North Africa, modern Europe, and, more remotely, India, but not at all with sub-Saharan Africa, eastern Asia, Oceania, or the New World.

From a C Loring Brace paper. Ignoring the racial study of ancient Egypt, but the bit that really caught my attention was the part in bold..

the fact that so many European Neolithic groups in Figure 4 tie more closely to the Late Dynastic Egyptians near the Mediterranean coast than they do with modern Europeans provides suggestive support for an eastern Mediterranean source for the people of the European Neolithic at an even earlier time level than Bernal suggests for the Egyptian-Phoenician colonization and influence on Greece early in the second millennium BC (Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza, 1973, 1979; Bernal, 1987:2; Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1993; Sokal et al. 1991).

Which would be Turkey, judging by all the other bits and pieces I’ve collected. Going by the language dating (about 9,000 years) and the sudden appearance of all the crops from Turkey in Francthi cave 11,000 years ago, on top of the DNA evidence that suggests Crete was settled from Turkey… I’m thinking Turkey was the probable cradle of Western civilisation, with an expansion beginning somewhere about 11,00 years ago but really getting into full swing about 9,000 years ago.