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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Maritime colonization of the Aegean in the early 7th Millennium BC


Open access at the Journal of World Prehistory:

Abstract: The process of Near Eastern neolithization and its westward expansion from the core zone in the Levant and upper Mesopotamia has been broadly discussed in recent decades, and many models have been developed to describe the spread of early farming in terms of its timing, structure, geography and sociocultural impact. Until now, based on recent intensive investigations in northwestern and western Anatolia, the discussion has mainly centred on the importance of Anatolian inland routes for the westward spread of neolithization. This contribution focuses on the potential impact of east Mediterranean and Aegean maritime networks on the spread of the Neolithic lifestyle to the western edge of the Anatolian subcontinent in the earliest phases of sedentism. Employing the longue durée model and the concept of ‘social memory’, we will discuss the arrival of new groups via established maritime routes. The existence of maritime networks prior to the spread of farming is already indicated by the high mobility of Epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic groups exploring the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas, and reaching, for example, the Cyclades and Cyprus. Successful navigation by these early mobile groups across the open sea is attested by the distribution of Melian obsidian. The potential existence of an additional Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) obsidian network that operated between Cappadocia/Cilicia and Cyprus further hints at the importance of maritime coastal trade. Since both the coastal and the high seas networks were apparently already well established in this early period, we may further assume appropriate knowledge of geographic routes, navigational technology and other aspects of successful seafaring. This Mesolithic/PPN maritime know-how package appears to have been used by later groups, in the early 7th millennium calBC, exploring the centre of the Anatolian Aegean coast, and in time establishing some of the first permanent settlements in that region. In the present paper, we link this background of newcomers to the western edge of Anatolia with new excavation results from Çukuriçi Höyük, which we have analysed in terms of subsistence strategies, materiality, technology and symbolism. Additionally, further detailed studies of nutrition and obsidian procurement shed light on the distinct maritime affinity of the early settlers in our case study, something that, in our view, can hardly be attributed to inland farming societies. We propose a maritime colonization in the 7th millennium via routes from the eastern Mediterranean to the eastern Aegean, based on previously developed sea networks. The pronounced maritime affinity of these farming and herding societies allows us to identify traces of earlier PPN concepts still embedded in the social-cultural memories of the newcomers and incorporated in a new local and regional Neolithic identity.

Horejs et al., The Aegean in the Early 7th Millennium BC: Maritime Networks and Colonization, Journal of World Prehistory, December 2015, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 289-330

9 comments:

Rob said...

I find this particularly interesting in light of the recent Greek Neolithic aDNA

"We are not able to fill the well-known gap between the Mesolithic evidence in the Aegean, northwest and southwest Anatolia and the first farmers and herders in the early Neolithic period"

There was hiatus between the Aegean foragers and earliest farmers

Roy King said...

Fantastic article! With Cukurici in Western Anatolia (apart from Barcin in NW Anatolia) as a possible source of Aegean Neolithic--perhaps including Greek Thessaly/Peloponnese--we may find that Aegean Neolithic is a movement from N Syria/Levant while NW Anatolian Neoithic from inland Anatolia. In such a case, the Y chromosomes of Crete/Greece/W Anatolia may differ from (eg G2a-M406) the CTS342, L91, P303* of NW Anatolia/Starcevo/LBK.

Roy King said...

@Davidski
The Smyrna_Greek samples that you analyze were collected for my Massalia paper. Given their proximity to Cukurici, could you analyze their admixture with Anatolian farmers, CHG etc..to see if they have any "Red Sea/southern west Asian" components? Thanks

Davidski said...

I'll be putting together a post about a new test that seems to show pretty accurate levels of CHG and EHG across Eurasia. I'll run all my Greek samples for that. It should be ready in the first week of January.

terryt said...

"We propose a maritime colonization in the 7th millennium via routes from the eastern Mediterranean to the eastern Aegean, based on previously developed sea networks".

Interesting. I am fairly sure that date corresponds with the extinction of much of the unusual fauna on many of the islands. In other words the population on the islands was not significant enough to cause extinctions until farming arrived.

Grey said...

"There was hiatus between the Aegean foragers and earliest farmers"

sea level rise?

http://antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/sakellariou334/images/figure1big.jpg

Colin Welling said...

@royking

They think the west anatolian neolithic was started by migrants and they think those migrants came by way of coastal networks, rather than exclusively inland routes. They still push for an ultimate source in the levant area.

They also said that the migrants kept to themselves.

What I find interesting is that there was a coastal network set up in the Aegean and east med during the mesolithic. Im not yet convinced that the aegean neolithic people primarily originated in the levant. I realize the farmers may have kept to themselves but there is still too much homogeneity to think that the Aegean Neolithics where so different from the Aegean mesolithics. I think the mesolithic links provide a decent change that aegean mesolithic populations learned farming.

FrankN said...

The existence of maritime networks prior to the spread of farming is already indicated by the high mobility of Epipalaeolithic/Mesolithic groups exploring the Aegean and east Mediterranean seas, and reaching, for example, the Cyclades and Cyprus
I'd say it is already evidenced by the fact that we find a UHG phenomenon, instead of clearly separated Cantabrian refuge HG, Italo-Ligurian refuge HG, and Adriatic-Balcan refuge HG. The Norwegian coast, btw., was settled by sea from Doggerland already in the late 10th millennium BC.

Iberian and Greek/Balcanic (but not Italian!) wild boar sharing the same mtDNA, which is different from wild boar mtDNA north of Alps/ Carpathians, adds to the point. Note from the paper:
"The earliest Neolithic stages [on Cyprus] are dominated by suids, interpreted as introduced wild boar which was hunted and managed."
Tunesian wild boar DNA should be interesting...

Note also that evidence for early land-based obsidian trade networks connecting Cappadocia and the Levante, later also the Lake Van area and the Levante, already dates back 14,000 years ago.

Rob said...

Frank

"I'd say it is already evidenced by the fact that we find a UHG phenomenon, instead of clearly separated Cantabrian refuge HG, Italo-Ligurian refuge HG, and Adriatic-Balcan refuge HG."

Yes, but some direct samples would be nice, so we don;t need to infer from EEF.