Monday, September 23, 2013

Ireland's First Neolithic Revolution Failed

Around 3700 BCE,Ireland had a full fledged sedentary farming village society. In the three hundred years that followed, apparently due to a worsening climate, this society collapsed. The people of Ireland returned to a hunting and foraging method of food production where the island remained for about 1200 years. A return to sedentary farming didn't begin until around 2200 BCE. There may have been similar developments in Britain. Instances of a return to hunting and foraging after a brief period of farming, before an ultimate return to farming, driven by climate, are also known in Scandinavia thousands of years later.

Among other things this means that for much of Northern and Western Europe, an era of hunting and foraging was much more recent at the advent of the historical record than an estimate based upon the earliest Neolithic archaeological traces would suggest. It also suggests that the relationship between megalithic cultural remnants and food production method may be more nuanced than earlier analysis had suggested.


Maju said...

Do you have access to the paper? I say because the abstract does not claim any "return to hunting and foraging" but just a decline in settlement (population), recovery of forests and the subsequent but relative increase in hunter-forager resources.

From 3400 cal BC, we see a decrease in the frequency of cereal evidence and an increase in some wild resources (e.g. fruits, but not nuts, in the records), alongside evidence for re-afforestation in pollen diagrams (3500–3000 cal BC).

This is not quite unlike what we observe in other Northern latitudes after the initial Neolithic boom but in no case it means a "return to hunting and foraging" in a qualitative, absolute, sense, just in a quantitative, relative, sense. We lack of similarly systematic data for Southern Europe AFAIK.

BTW, I'm glad to see that you survived The Flood. I hope all is well, at least well enough.

andrew said...

The Flood (a 1000 year flood BTW), in Boulder held me harmless. The jury trial I'd been scheduled to present in Boulder settled the day before the flood and would have had to have been rescheduled otherwise as courts were closed in Boulder for several days. My morning commute turned the neighborhood from a quite urban residential neighborhood to a land of lakes big and small, but most only closed one lane of a two lane road. Opposing counsel in one case I was appearing in was trapped in her home and had to appear by cell phone (and I was soaked to the skin in court), but that was about as exciting as it got. A number of people died in some heart breaking incidents (one involved a very serious boyfriend and girlfriend swept away and drowned as they came home from a birthday party), but, in general, we've survived although our road system in the affected area may take a decade to repair and at least six dams burst. Fortunately, my home is on high ground.

Maju said...

I'm not sure where you live in Colorado nor how much of it was affected, so that's why I asked, especially because I did not hear from you in several weeks. I'm glad to hear that you are like a modern Noah of sorts. Hope things gradually return to normality. Best wishes.

andrew said...

Thanks for caring. Its been a very busy month. Two major jury trials (one settled favorably and the other was a victory for my client), litigation from start to a favorable settlement in another lawsuit, heavy pre-trial work for three other lawsuits in the near future, the final stages of a major tax audit, the complications of having two households while reconciling before a divorce became final, work on my book in progress, and preparations to give a televised continuing education presentation for five hours in another state have kept me very, very busy - cutting my 8-10 books a month of reading time in half and curtailing my blogging as well.