Journal of World Prehistory

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 233–278

The transition to farming in Eastern and Northern Europe

  • Marek Zvelebil
  • Paul Dolukhanov

DOI: 10.1007/BF00974991

Cite this article as:
Zvelebil, M. & Dolukhanov, P. J World Prehist (1991) 5: 233. doi:10.1007/BF00974991


This paper presents a general survey of the transition to farming in Eastern and Northern Europe, approached within the framework of the availability model and treated from the perspective of local (Mesolithic) hunting and gathering communities. We argue that in Eastern and Northern Europe, the transition to farming was a slow process, which occurred through the adoption of exogenous cultigens and domesticates by the local hunter-gatherer populations, who may have been already engaged in some form of husbandry of the local resources. Contact and exchange with the Neolithic and later Bronze Age of Central Europe had a profound and prolonged influence on the process of the adoption of farming in Eastern and Northern Europe. During the slow process of transition, mixed hunting-farming societies emerged, which could be regarded as having a characteristic social and economic organization of their own (i.e., neither “Mesolithic” nor “Neolithic”). In conclusion, we argue for continuity in population and in social and economic traditions from the hunter-gatherer past until recent antiquity and, in some areas, into the historical period.

Key words

MesolithicNeolithicagricultural transitionagricultural frontierEastern EuropeNorthern Europe

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marek Zvelebil
    • 1
  • Paul Dolukhanov
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Archaeology and PrehistoryUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldEngland
  2. 2.Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle upon TyneEngland