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Process and Dynamics of Mediterranean Neolithization (7000–5500 bc)

Abstract

Why did the farming lifestyle appear and proliferate so rapidly through the Mediterranean basin between 7000 and 5500 bc? In this paper, I review the archaeological and bioarchaeological data pertinent to Mediterranean Neolithization, suggesting that a preponderance of evidence indicates that this process involved migration—long-distance, targeted colonization along the north Mediterranean littoral. I argue that this process was driven by rapid fissioning within early farming communities, fissioning in turn caused by competing centrifugal and centripetal economic forces within small-scale egalitarian groups.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Co-editors for their patience in waiting for this manuscript and for their editorial guidance, and the anonymous reviewers for their constructively critical comments. Çiler Çilingiroğlu, Suzanne Pilaar Birch, Simon Stoddart, Caroline Malone, Yorke Rowan, Morag Kersel, Ralf Vandam, Marko Porčić, and Daniel Pullen offered bibliographic assistance, for which I am very grateful. Conversations with—and the work of—Cyprian Broodbank, Marc Vander Linden, Matthew Spriggs, and Martin Furholt have influenced how I think about the processes described in this paper. Finally, I thank Elizabeth Murphy and John Cherry for kindly reading and commenting on the paper in its entirety.

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Leppard, T.P. Process and Dynamics of Mediterranean Neolithization (7000–5500 bc). J Archaeol Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10814-021-09161-5

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Keywords

  • Mediterranean
  • Neolithic
  • Migration
  • Palaeodemography
  • Fissioning
  • Egalitarian social organization