, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 123-210

A Variation on a Basic Theme: The Transition to Farming in Southern Central Europe

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This paper attempts to summarize the past years of research on the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Central Europe and to review recent discussions about the origin and spread of the Early Neolithic. Particular emphasis is given to the debate about migration or diffusion. A combined migrationist/diffusionist model is presented, arguing for an emergence of a farming economy among hunter-gatherer populations in Transdanubia and the subsequent spread of this economy through migration. The new settlers interacted with local Mesolithic groups and adopted and incorporated local material culture and sometimes even aspects of local Mesolithic economy, a process which continued throughout the Early Neolithic. With time, population increase, subsequent competition for resources, and climatic instability led to a destabilization of traditional Early Neolithic society and finally to the outbreak of severe intercommunity violence. The only escape from mutual extinction was a rearrangement of subsistence and social and political structures, possibly with contributions from surviving Terminal Mesolithic groups.