Neolithic Scandinavians Rejected Farming

Credit: Copyright Solange Rigaud

Examples of personal ornaments used by the last
European foraging societies during the Early
Neolithic period 8,000-5,000 BCE. 
Recent DNA studies show that an isolated "mystery" population developed farming, and, that agriculture was spread from the middle East throughout the Mediterranean basin not overland but by boat in a pattern leap-frogging along the coasts of Europe.

This report suggests what happened as farming settlements appeared further from its origination point.  In short, hunter - gatherer bands rejected farming practices, preferring to remain in their traditional way of life.

The expansion of a new and radically different economic model against the resistance of an older, established social order is gist for the writer's mill.  I can easily imagine all sorts of conflict occurring.  For one thing, hunter-gatherer society is based on the extended family, with the oldest members of the clan making decisions and guiding group actions, whereas in a village of farmers with a greater population, there is going to be conflict between clans to establish control.

This explains how we end up with family feuds as between the Capulets and Montagues or the Hatfields and McCoys, a plot based on ancient human reality.

Here's the story, along with links to other related posts:
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Don’t make me into a farmer:
Northern Europeans to Neolithic interlopers

Northern Europeans in the Neolithic period initially rejected the practice of farming, which was otherwise spreading throughout the continent, researchers find. Their findings offer a new wrinkle in the history of a major economic revolution that moved civilizations away from foraging and hunting as a means for survival.

"This discovery goes beyond farming," explains Solange Rigaud, the study's lead author and a researcher at the Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CIRHUS) in New York City. "It also reveals two different cultural trajectories that took place in Europe thousands of years ago, with southern and central regions advancing in many ways and northern regions maintaining their traditions."

CIRHUS is a collaborative arrangement between France's National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and New York University.

The study, whose other authors include Francesco d'Errico, a professor at CNRS and Norway's University of Bergen, and Marian Vanhaeren, a professor at CNRS, appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

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In order to study these developments, the researchers focused on the adoption or rejection of ornaments -- certain types of beads or bracelets worn by different populations. This approach is suitable for understanding the spread of specific practices -- previous scholarship has shown a link between the embrace of survival methods and the adoption of particular ornaments. However, the PLOS ONE study marks the first time researchers have used ornaments to trace the adoption of farming in this part of the world during the Early Neolithic period (8,000-5,000 BCE).

It has been long established that the first farmers came to Europe 8,000 years ago, beginning in Greece and marking the start of a major economic revolution on the continent: the move from foraging to farming over the next 3,000 years. However, the pathways of the spread of farming during this period are less clear.

To explore this process, the researchers examined more than 200 bead-types found at more than 400 European sites over a 3,000-year period. Previous research has linked farming and foraging populations with the creation and adornment of discrete types of beads, bracelets, and pendants. In the PLOS ONE study, the researchers traced the adoption of ornaments linked to farming populations in order to elucidate the patterns of transition from foraging and hunting to farming.

Their results show the spread of ornaments linked to farmers -- human-shaped beads and bracelets composed of perforated shells -- stretching from eastern Greece and the Black Sea shore to France's Brittany region and from the Mediterranean Sea northward to Spain. By contrast, the researchers did not find these types of ornaments in the Baltic region of northern Europe. Rather, this area held on to decorative wear typically used by hunting and foraging populations -- perforated shells rather than beads or bracelets found in farming communities.

"It's clear hunters and foragers in the Baltic area resisted the adoption of ornaments worn by farmers during this period," explains Rigaud. "We've therefore concluded that this cultural boundary reflected a block in the advancement of farming -- at least during the Neolithic period."

The research was supported, in part, by the French Ministry of National Education, Research, and Technology, the Fyssen Foundation, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Action.

Related stories:
Also of interest:
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Story Source: Materials provided by New York University. Solange Rigaud , Francesco d'Errico, Marian Vanhaeren. Ornaments Reveal Resistance of North European Cultures to the Spread of Farming. PLoS One, 2015


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