The Neolithic Period The adoption of farming From about bce in Greece, farming economies were progressively adopted in Europe, though areas farther west, such as Britain, were not affected for two millennia and Scandinavia not until even later. The period from the beginning of agriculture to the widespread use of bronze about bce is called the Neolithic Period New Stone Age. Agriculture had developed at an earlier date in the Middle Eastand the relationship of Europe to that area and the mechanism of the introduction of agriculture have been variously explained.
Basic cultural characteristics[ edit ] An array of Neolithic artifacts, including bracelets, axe heads, chisels, and polishing tools. Regardless of specific chronology, many European Neolithic groups share basic characteristics, such as living in small-scale, family-based communities, subsisting on domesticated plants and animals supplemented with the collection of wild plant foods and with hunting, and producing hand-made pottery, that is, pottery made without the potter's wheel.
Polished stone axes lie at the heart of the neolithic new stone culture, enabling forest clearance for agriculture and production of wood for dwellings, as well as fuel. Since the s, population genetics has provided independent data on the population history of Neolithic Europe, including migration events and genetic relationships with peoples in South Asia.
A stone used in Neolithic rituals, in Detmerode, WolfsburgGermany. Old Europe archaeology Archeologists believe that food-producing societies first emerged in the Levantine region of southwest Asia at the close of the last glacial period around 12, BCE, and developed into a number of regionally distinctive cultures by the eighth millennium BCE.
Remains of food-producing societies in the Aegean have been carbon-dated to around BCE at KnossosFranchthi Caveand a number of mainland sites in Thessaly. Neolithic groups appear soon afterwards in the Balkans and south-central Europe. The Neolithic cultures of southeastern Europe the Balkans and the Aegean show some continuity with groups in southwest Asia and Anatolia e.
Current evidence suggests that Neolithic material culture was introduced to Europe via western Anatolia, and that similarities in cultures of North Africa and the Pontic steppes are due to diffusion out of Europe.
All Neolithic sites in Europe contain ceramics ,[ original research? Genetic data suggest that no independent domestication of animals took place in Neolithic Europe, and that all domesticated animals were originally domesticated in Southwest Asia. The Baltic region was penetrated a bit later, around BCE, and there was also a delay in settling the Pannonian plain.
In general, colonization shows a "saltatory" pattern, as the Neolithic advanced from one patch of fertile alluvial soil to another, bypassing mountainous areas.
Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially in the Iberian peninsula and along the Atlantic coast.
Genetic history of Europe Genetic studies since the s have identified the genetic contribution of Neolithic farmers to modern European populations, providing quantitative results relevant to the long-standing "replacement model" vs.
The EEF component was identified based on the genome of a woman buried c. In a analysis of ancient DNA datasets of the Chalcolithic and Neolithic periods from Hungary, Germany and Spain evidence was found of a prolongued period of interbreeding.
Admixture took place regionally, from local hunter-gatherer populations, so that populations from the three regions Germany, Iberia and Hungary were genetically distinguishable at all stages of the Neolithic period, with a gradually increasing ratio of WHG ancestry of farming populations over time.
This suggests that after the initial expansion of early farmers, there were no further long-range migrations substantial enough to homogenize the farming population, and that farming and hunter-gatherer populations existed side by side for many centuries, with ongoing gradual admixture throughout the 5th to 4th millennia BC rather than a single admixture event on initial contact.
Paleo-European languages There is no direct evidence of the languages spoken in the Neolithic. Some proponents of paleolinguistics attempt to extend the methods of historical linguistics to the Stone Age, but this has little academic support.
Criticising scenarios which envision for the Neolithic only a small number of language families spread over huge areas of Europe as in modern timesDonald Ringe has argued on general principles of language geography as concerns "tribal", pre-state societiesand the scant remains of apparently indigenous non-Indo-European languages attested in ancient inscriptions, that Neolithic Europe must have been a place of great linguistic diversity, with many language families with no recoverable linguistic links to each other, much like western North America prior to European colonisation.
The Anatolian hypothesis postulates arrival of Indo-European languages with the early Neolithic. Old European hydronymy is taken by Hans Krahe to be the oldest reflection of the early presence of Indo-European in Europe.
Theories of "Pre-Indo-European" languages in Europe are built on scant evidence. The Basque language is the best candidate for a descendant of such a language, but since Basque is a language isolatethere is no comparative evidence to build upon.
Theo Vennemann nevertheless postulates a " Vasconic " family, which he supposes had co-existed with an "Atlantic" or "Semitidic" i. Another candidate is a Tyrrhenian family which would have given rise to Etruscan and Raetic in the Iron Age, and possibly also Aegean languages such as Minoan or Pelasgian in the Bronze Age.
In the north, a similar scenario to Indo-European is thought to have occurred with Uralic languages expanding in from the east.
In particular, while the Sami languages of the indigenous Sami people belong in the Uralic family, they show considerable substrate influence, thought to represent one or more extinct original languages. The Sami are estimated to have adopted a Uralic language less than 2, years ago.
There are early loanwords from unidentified non-IE languages in other Uralic languages of Europe as well. First European Neolithic site.
Sesklo 7th millennium Greece.In other parts of the world, such as Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, independent domestication events led to their own regionally distinctive Neolithic cultures that arose completely independently of those in Europe and Southwest Asia.
Analysis of radiocarbon dates show clearly that Mesolithic and Neolithic populations lived side by side for as much as a millennium in many parts of Europe, especially .
The Neolithic Age thus drew to its close, but not all at once. It disappeared first in the southern portion of Europe—from Greece and Italy; but it lingered to a far later date in the north: among the scattered tribes of Turanian people it would still assert its sway.
Towards the end of the Neolithic era, copper metallurgy is introduced, which marks a transition period to the Bronze Age.
Another site in northern Syria named Tell Abu Hureyra, displays evidence for the transition from foraging to farming: it was a gradual process, which took several centuries.
When people think of the Neolithic era, they often think of Stonehenge, the iconic image of this early era. Dating to approximately B.C.E. and set on Salisbury Plain in England, it is a structure larger and more complex than anything built before it in Europe.
Crickley Hill is an important Neolithic and Iron Age site in the Cotswold Hills of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, known to scholars primarily for its evidence of recurring violence.
The first structures of the site included an enclosure with a causeway, dated approximately ~ BC.