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Westward Ho!: The Spread of Agriculture from Central Europe to the Atlantic

Peter Rowley-Conwy
Current Anthropology
Vol. 52, No. S4, The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas (October 2011), pp. S431-S451
DOI: 10.1086/658368
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/658368
Page Count: 21
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Westward Ho!
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Abstract

Recent work on the four major areas of the spread of agriculture in Neolithic western Europe has revealed that they are both chronologically and economically much more abrupt than has hitherto been envisaged. Most claims of a little agriculture in Late Mesolithic communities are shown to be incorrect. In most places, full sedentary agriculture was introduced very rapidly at the start of the Neolithic. “Transitional” economies are virtually absent. Consequently, the long-term processes of internal development from forager to farmer, so often discussed in Mesolithic-Neolithic Europe, are increasingly hard to sustain. The spread of agriculture by immigration is thus an increasingly viable explanation. The crucial role of boats for transport and of dairying for the survival of new farming settlements are both highlighted. Farming migrations were punctuated and sporadic, not a single wave of advance. Consequently, there was much genetic mixing as farming spread, so that agricultural immigrants into any region carried a majority of native European Mesolithic genes, not Near Eastern ones.

Notes and References

This item contains 223 references.

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