Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Old News: The Spread Of The Neolithic Revolution In Europe

This map from 2006 has largely withstood the test of time. 

Some key observations that might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked:

* The initial Fertile Crescent Neolithic saw different crops and animals domesticated by genetically distinct modern human populations in different places across the Fertile Crescent. The Neolithic Revolution only expanded once the domesticated plants and animals found at various locations within the Fertile Crescent were consolidated into a single combined package of domesticates. 

* The European Neolithic revolution shared a common origin from Western Anatolia, to the Acreamic Neolithic in Crete, to Thessalia in Greece, to the rest of Greece and the Balkans, before forking off into Mediterranean and terrestrial European branches. The Fertile Crescent Neolithic package added some secondary domesticates in the process of this shared early expansion.

* The Western Mediterranean Neolithic (a.k.a. Cardial Pottery), was several centuries earlier than the early LBK (a.k.a. Linear Pottery) Neolithic in central Europe.

* The LBK Neolithic in central Europe started off in only the best land for farming, mostly along major rivers, and then expanded later into arable, but less optimal farming land.

* There was a mass migration of herders derived from the Mediterranean Neolithic the migrated along a narrow stretch of land, roughly in Eastern France, from Southern France towards central Europe at about the same time as the early LBK.

* As late as 4900 BCE large swaths of Europe had still not experienced the Neolithic Revolution and were still inhabited by European hunter-gatherers whose ancestors had migrated to Europe in the Mesolithic era.

* The Neolithic Revolution in Egypt, West Asia, and the Indus River Valley, were derived from the Fertile Crescent Neolithic Revolution as well, but are not shown on the map below.  These Neolithic expansions also picked up some secondary domesticated plants and animals along the way, like the donkey which was domesticated in Egypt. In Egypt, the Neolithic Revolution increased the population density in the Nile Basin by roughly a hundred-fold.

Source: Detlef Gronenborn, "Ancient DNA from the First European Farmers in 7500-Year-Old Neolithic Sites", 312 Science (June 30, 2006).

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