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Archaeobotanical Evidence for the Spread of Farming in the Eastern Mediterranean 1
by Sue Colledge, James Conolly, and Stephen Shennan
A major topic of debate in Old World prehistory is the relative importance of population movement versus cultural diffusion in explaining the spread of agriculture into and across Europe following its inception in southwestern Asia. An important set of data that has surprisingly been largely absent from this debate is the preserved crops and associated weeds of the earliest farmers. An analysis of archaeobotanical data from 40 aceramic Neolithic sites in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe shows that there are vegetational signatures that characterize the different geographical regions occupied by the Early Neolithic farmers. On this basis it is argued that the compositional similarities of the crop package between the Levantine core, Cyprus, and Greece are indicative of both the routes of migration of early farming groups and the early agricultural practices of Europe’s first farmers. s u e c o l l e d g e is a postdoctoral fellow of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Born in 1955, she was educated at the University of Birmingham (B.Sc., 1976) and the University of Sheffield (Ph.D., 1994). Among her publications is Plant Exploitation on Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic Sites in the Levant (British Archaeological Reports International Series 986). j a m e s c o n o l l y is Lecturer in Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (31–34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, U.K. [[email protected]
]). He was born in 1968 and received his B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1990 and his Ph.D. from University College London in 1997. He is coauthor, with M. Lake, of Geographical Information Systems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, in press). s t e p h e n s h e n n a n is Professor of Theoretical Archaeology and Deputy Director of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Born in 1949, he was educated at Cambridge University (B.A., 1971; Ph.D., 1977). His most recent book is Genes, Memes, and Human History: Darwinian Archaeology and Cultural Evolution (London: Thames and Hudson, 2002). The present paper was submitted 3 iv 03 and accepted 22 i 04. [Supplementary materials appear in the electronic edition of this issue on the journal’s web page (http://www.journals.uchicago/ edu/CA/home.html).] 1. We thank Michael Charles, Andrew Garrard, David Harris, and five anonymous reviewers who read and commented on drafts of this paper. We are also grateful to the staff and students of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, who contrib-
Explaining the transition to agriculture is a long-standing and central problem in European prehistoric archaeology that traces its history to Gordon Childe’s (1929) diffusionist model. In 1965 Grahame Clark mapped the radiocarbon dates associated with the earliest Neolithic sites and demonstrated a cline oriented roughly northwest to southeast across Europe to the Levant, confirming Childe’s earlier proposals regarding the primacy of agriculture in the eastern Mediterranean. Less than a decade later Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza (1973) investigated the processes underlying the expansion of farming and developed a spatial model based in part on Fisher’s (1937) wave of advance for advantageous genes, proposing a demic expansion of farmers of ca. 1 km per year from an (assumed) origin in Jericho. Since then it has been shown that there are regions that deviate substantially from this trend surface, notably along the Mediterranean coasts, where movement rates are faster than predicted, and the Iberian peninsula, which experiences much slower rates of Neolithization (Cavalli-Sforza 1996), but the 1 km/year approximation has remained a good generalization of the expansion of farming communities across the continent. Debate continues, however, as to whether Neolithization was caused by a movement of people or one of ideas. Recent sophisticated quantitative analysis of the radiocarbon record has shown that the relationship between the decline of indigenous Mesolithic populations and the first appearance of farming communities was complex (Gkiasta et al. 2003). Population diffusion (e.g., through intermarriage between hunter-gatherer and early farming groups) and cultural diffusion independent of population movement have been shown to give equally convincing explanations of the spatial and temporal patterns of Neolithic expansion (Richards 2003, Bentley et al. 2002, Nowak 2001, Price et al. 2001, Price 2000). The fragile consensus is that a complex mixture of demic expansion and cultural diffusion was responsible for the origin and spread of the Neolithic into Europe from its first appearance in southwestern Asia, although debate continues over which of these processes was dominant in different regions of the continent (see, in particular, Price 2000). From the perspective of European archaeologists it is the first Neolithic communities in Greece—from about 7000 BC2—that mark the beginning of the process of European “Neolithization.” However, this date is nearly three millennia after the emergence of agricultural communities in the eastern Mediterranean, and Near Eastern archaeologists have shown that an expansion of early farming groups throughout the Levant and into Cyprus and central Anatolia occurs well before the Neolithic first appears in southeastern Europe (Cauvin 1989, Pel¨ zdog˘an 1997). With few exceptions tenburg et al. 2001, O (e.g., Perle`s 2001), accounts of European Neolithization pay little more than lip-service to the substantial research that has been undertaken on the spread of early uted to discussions after we presented this paper at a research seminar in January 2003. 2. All dates BC are calibrated.
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Fig. 1. Eastern Mediterranean aceramic Neolithic sites referred to in the text. (Locations 25, 35, and 37 refer to two sites each.)
farming practices in the eastern Mediterranean, and, conversely, Near Eastern archaeologists rarely look beyond Anatolia for further evidence to address the central question of why farming spread and how farming practices were adapted to European temperate environments. It is in this regard that we draw attention to the fact that although the fundamental elements of the European crop package are derived from founder species that evolved in southwestern Asia, archaeobotanical data have never been referred to in any models of Neolithization in an interregional comparative context. As we demonstrate here, when examined in a spatial and chronological framework the archaeobotanical record provides insight into the transition to farming at both local and regional levels. As well as providing information on the use of domestic crops, the accompanying wild species, and, more important, associated weeds, the data can be used to construct a comprehensive picture of the evolution and adaptation of agricultural systems over space and time. In this paper we present the results of comparative analyses of archaeobotanical data from 40 aceramic Neolithic sites from the eastern Mediterranean (fig. 1). The results of the analysis clarify regional differences in crop composition and refine the chronologies,
sources, and routes of dispersal of the earliest domestic crops from southwestern Asia into southeastern Europe.3
Integrating Archaeobotanical Data into Models of the Spread of Farming Despite concentrated research into the archaeobotanical foundations of early agriculture in localized areas of the Levant and southeastern Anatolia, there has never been a systematic, pan-regional comparative analysis of archaeobotanical assemblages of key sites from southwestern Asia and Europe. To address this problem, we have assembled a relational database containing records of the plant taxa represented on pre- and early Neolithic sites, linked to a database of 14C dates for sites in Europe4 and to additional dates for the southwestern Asian sites. 3. This paper presents initial findings arising from a larger project (The Origin and Spread of Neolithic Plant Economies in the Near East and Europe) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (U.K.), directed by Stephen Shennan and James Conolly of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, in collaboration with James Steels of the University of Southampton. Sue Colledge is the project’s research fellow. 4. http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/collections/blurbs/283.cfm.
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At the time of writing, the database contains detailed archaeobotanical information from 166 sites comprising a total of 243 phases with ca. 1,000 associated radiocarbon dates and covering an area from southern Iran to northwestern Europe (including Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, France, and Germany as well as countries in the eastern Mediterranean). The time span represented by these sites is ca. 15,500 years, between ca. 21,000 bp and ca. 5,500 bp. The data model is shown in figure 2. Each taxon (e.g., species) that has been identified by the archaeobotanists responsible for the different sites represents a separate record in the archaeobotanical data table, and to date 6,121 entries have been made (our data consist of records of remains that have been preserved by charring, with very few mineralized specimens or identifications made from impressions included). Numbers and ubiquity scores (i.e., number of samples in which a taxon occurs as a percentage of the total number of samples) relate to the representation of these taxa according to major cultural phases rather than to individual samples. The records include references to a total of 719 taxa that have been listed in the published reports (including wild and domestic cereals and pulses, fruits, oil plants, and many wild or weed species). Archaeobotanical reports have been critically reviewed prior to entering information in the database; notes made by the authors have been added to accompany the records, providing details of the identification criteria they used, for example, to distinguish between the wild progenitors and domestic species. Archaeological literature relating to the dating and phasing at the sites has also been referred to, and this has thrown light on inaccuracies in
published articles, most significantly with respect to the contextual or chronological association of early finds of domestic crops (e.g., Jericho [see below and Colledge 2004]). Once complete, this publicly available database will be an invaluable resource for the study of the origins of and the transition to agriculture in southwestern Asia and Europe. We demonstrate its relevance and value here and show how multivariate analysis of archaeobotanical data can contribute to our understanding of the spread of the Neolithic crop package.
The Origins of Farming in Southwestern Asia and Southeastern Europe: Spatial and Temporal Dynamics The first evidence of domestic crops5 occurs in southwestern Asia in the first centuries of the tenth millennium BC, probably at the beginning of the climatic amelioration following the Younger Dryas stadial. The earliest domestic cereals were emmer (Triticum dicoccum), einkorn (Triticum monococcum), and hulled barley (Hordeum vulgare, hereafter referred to as Hordeum sativum). Together with flax (Linum usitatissimum) and four pulses—lentil (Lens culinaris), pea (Pisum sativum), bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia), and chick pea (Cicer arietinum)—they constitute the “founder crops” of Neolithic agriculture (Zohary 1996). This assemblage of spe5. We refer here only to the “founder crops” which formed the basis of Neolithic agriculture, not including, therefore, the early finds of domestic rye from Epipalaeolithic contexts at Abu Hureyra (Hillman 2000:379–84).
Fig. 2. The data model. Primary fields are denoted by asterisks; arrows show one-to-many relationships.
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cies (or crop package) was adopted either in its entirety or in subsets and spread rapidly beyond the places in which the first domestication events occurred (Garrard 1999) (figs. 3 and 4). Evidence for the earliest domestic cereal species on aceramic Neolithic sites (culturally defined as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A [PPNA] and Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B [EPPNB]; table 1) and, by extension, the timing of the first domestication events are considered by some researchers to be unreliable. These researchers dispute the authenticity of the archaeobotanical finds for two reasons: they question (1) whether a distinction between wild and domestic grains/chaff can be made, given the paucity of the remains and the poor quality of preservation, and (2) whether domestic cereals can be assigned to the earliest Neolithic phases, given the ambiguities of radiocarbon dating and the questionable stratigraphic integrity of the samples in which they were found (see, e.g., Nesbitt 2002). However, if domestic cereal taxa from PPNA and EPPNB contexts are omitted from the archaeobotanical record—the rationale being that all early samples are intrusive or incorrectly dated—the question remains why domestication events had not occurred in the millennium between the time when cultivation of wild species began in the Epipalaeolithic (Hillman et al. 2001; Hillman 2000:376–96) and the first unequivocal
signs of domestic crops linked with the more reliable socio-demographic evidence of large-scale production by farming communities in the Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (MPPNB) (Harris 1998:69–71). This “long-gestation” argument is contrary to the views held by Hillman and Davies (1992:144), who, on the basis of experimental evidence, have proposed that domestication could have taken place within 20–200 years after the initial attempts were made at cultivating stands of wild cereals. The semi-tough mutant forms in the wild populations (i.e., the precursor domestic species) would have experienced a positive selective advantage only under certain conditions. The prerequisite conditions identified by Hillman and Davies are (1) harvesting of cereals by sickle or uprooting, (2) harvesting while crops were partially ripe or near ripe, (3) annual extension or shifts of the area under cultivation, and (4) the taking of each year’s seed stocks from the harvests of the previous season’s new plots (pp. 124–32). Given these preconditions, they calculate, the rate of domestication would have been relatively rapid. This “short-gestation” model places the PPNA in a pivotal role in the emergence of crop-based subsistence (Harris 2002:69–70), and this is also in concordance with the argument that climatic stability immediately following the Younger Dryas stadial was an essential factor in
Fig. 3. Sites with references to domestic hulled barley, 10,000–6500 Cal BC. (For key see figure 1.)
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Fig. 4. Sites with references to domestic emmer/einkorn, 10,000–6500 Cal BC. (For key see figure 1.) the relatively rapid shift to domestic cereal species (Richerson, Boyd, and Bettinger 2001). We find these arguments more persuasive, and our temporal and spatial models therefore include the archaeobotanical evidence, albeit tenuous, for domestic cereals from the earliest Neolithic phases. The geographical distributions of the wild progenitor species of the three cereals overlap but differ in their relative extents (fig. 5). The common focus of all three species is the “Near Eastern arc” (i.e., the “fertile crescent”). Zohary and Hopf describe the natural range of wild emmer (Triticum dicoccoides) as extending throughout Israel, Jordan (particularly the Jordan Valley catchment, where it is most widespread), southwestern Syria, Lebanon, southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, and western Iran (Zohary and Hopf 2000:44; Valkoun, Giles Waines, and Konopka 1998). Wild einkorn (Triticum boeoticum) is found as far west as the southern Balkans and reaches Iran in the east; it has its distribution centre in the Near Eastern arc and is prevalent in northern Syria, southern Turkey, and northern Iraq (Zohary and Hopf 2000:35; Valkoun, Giles Waines, and Konopka 1998). The centre of the distribution of wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) also lies in the Near Eastern arc. From Israel and Jordan in the southwest its range extends north towards southern Turkey and southeast into Iraqi Kurdi-
stan and southwestern Iran (Zohary and Hopf 2000:65; Valkoun, Giles Waines, and Konopka 1998). It is in the area covered by the western arm of the arc that the first domestic cereals are thought to have originated. On the basis of genetic evidence, it has also been postulated that the domestication events which gave rise to the three founder-crop cereals occurred only once or at most very few times (Zohary 1996, 1999).
The Earliest Evidence for Domestic Cereals in the Western Arm of the Near Eastern Arc The Levantine corridor. The earliest dated evidence for the use of domestic cereals in southwestern Asia comes from PPNA levels at the site of Iraq ed-Dubb (fig. 1, table 2) in the southern Levant in the first half of the tenth millennium BC6 (Colledge 2001:143–44; Kuijt n.d.). Van Zeist and Bakker-Heeres have also recorded the presence of domestic cereal species in PPNA phase Ia at Tell Aswad in the central Levant in the late tenth millennium BC (van Zeist and Bakker-Heeres 1982). Hopf (1983) identified domestic einkorn, emmer, and barley from charred 6. Calibrated date ranges were estimated using OxCal v3.8.
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table 1 Aceramic Neolithic Chronological Periods and Approximate Date Ranges Chronological Period Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Final Pre-Pottery Neolithic B/ Pre-Pottery Neolithic C
Start Cal BC ca. ca. ca. ca. ca.
9800 8800 8400 7500 7000
End Cal BC ca. ca. ca. ca. ca.
8800 8400 7500 7000 6500
(sensu stricto) comes from C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ in southeastern Anatolia, where van Zeist and de Roller (1991–92) identified domestic einkorn and emmer in the phases assigned to the EPPNB, including the grill building, channelled ¨ zdog˘an 1999, Bibuilding, and associated basal pits (O c¸akc¸i 1998). This brackets the first use of domesticates to between 9320 Ⳳ 95 bp (GrN-6243) and 8980 Ⳳ 80 bp (GrN-6244), which give a calibrated range of approximately 8700 BC–7800 BC, roughly equivalent in time to
source: Kuijt (2000:3–13).
remains and impressions in plaster from PPNA levels at Jericho. Close scrutiny of the exact provenance of the samples in which the Jericho cereals were found has revealed that, although they are within levels defined culturally as PPNA (Bar-Yosef and Kra 1994:6; Bar-Yosef and Gopher 1997:251), the radiocarbon evidence shows that they are later than the Iraq ed-Dubb and Aswad finds and chronologically equivalent to the EPPNB. Two of the samples were taken from trench D1 (stage VIII contexts of Kenyon’s stratigraphic system), associated with four radiocarbon dates that fall in the middle of the ninth millennium BC (Burleigh 1981:501–4; 1983:760–65).7 The other two samples in which Hopf identified domestic cereals were both from trench Tr1 (stage X contexts), approximately 2 m above stage VIII, just below the PPNA/B boundary sealing the tower and closely associated with a date for stage IX of 9200 Ⳳ 70 bp (BM1789 [Burleigh 1983:760–65])(for a more detailed account see Colledge 2004). Northern Levant and southeastern Anatolia. The well-documented and dated presence of PPNA (or PPNAlike) settlements at C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ and Hallan C ¸ emi could be interpreted as the terminal extension of a northern distribution of Levantine PPNA sites, including Mureybit, Qermez Dere, and M’lefaat, all of which date roughly to the late eleventh/early tenth millennium BC. There are, however, no known sites dating to the PPNA/EPPNB between the Damascus Basin and southeastern Anatolia which have unequivocal evidence of the use of domestic cereals. At the early Neolithic sites of Jerf al Ahmar (Willcox and Fornite 1999, Willcox 1996), Tell Mureybit (van Zeist and Bakker-Heeres 1984), and Dja’de (Willcox 1996) in the Euphrates Valley, it has been proposed that there was cultivation of wild cereals, with no signs of domestic species in this area until the MPPNB.8 For example, a date of 8700 Ⳳ 75 bp is associated with domestic cereals at Halula (Willcox 1996). The first evidence for domesticated cereals outside of the Levantine corridor 7. Omitting earlier dates which are considered to be unreliable (see Bar-Yosef and Kra 1994:6; Bar-Yosef and Gopher 1997:251). 8. Willcox (2004) has recently claimed on the basis of metric analysis that in the later levels at Jerf al Ahmar and at Dja’de (both equivalent to the EPPNB) there are “plump-type” wheat and barley grains similar in size to domestic cereal species. At both sites, however, all wheat chaff and over 90% of barley chaff were recorded as having wild-type abscission scars.
Fig. 5. Approximate distribution of the wild progenitor species of wheat and barley in the Eastern Mediterranean. A, T. boeoticum; B, T. dicoccoides; C, H. spontaneum (after Valkoun, Giles Waines, and Konopka 1998, Zohary and Hopf 2000).
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table 2 Radiocarbon and Calendar Dates Associated with the Earliest Domestic Cereals in the Levant Site
Lab Number Date bp 1 sigma Cal BC 2 sigma
Jericho Jericho Jericho Jericho Tell Aswad Tell Aswad Iraq ed-Dubb Iraq ed-Dubb Iraq ed-Dubb
BM-1321 BM-1787 BM-1226 BM-252 GIF-2372 GIF-2633 AA-38145 AA-38140 OxA-2567
9,230 9,280 9,320 9,320 9,640 9,730 9,941 9,952 9,959
80 100 220 150 120 120 72 64 100
8450 8525 8600 8700 8950 9125 9475 9475 9600
180 275 700 450 350 475 275 275 400
sources: Burleigh (1981, 1983), de Contenson (1973), Kuijt (n.d.).
the first dated use of cereals at Jericho. Debate continues over whether southeastern Anatolia was a separate “centre” of domestication for Triticum monococcum (see Heun et al. 1997). Nesbitt (2002:127), after examination of the Nevali C ¸ ori glume wheat chaff, stated that it was all of the domestic type, but, to date, full results have not been published by the primary analyst.
Early Agricultural Migration and Colonization Previous research by Peltenburg et al. (2001), Perle`s ¨ zdog˘an (1997), van Andel and Runnels (1995), (2001), O and Cauvin (1989), among others, emphasizes migration as a causal factor during the early phases of the spread of farming. More specifically, it has been argued that after the emergence of domestic cereals in the western arm of the Near Eastern arc, early farming communities colonized three adjacent regions from the late tenth/ early ninth millennium BC onward. In chronological order, these were (1) Cyprus, (2) central Anatolia, and (3) Crete and Greece. Each of these events can be conceived of as an influx of farmers into favourable ecological zones, replacing through assimilation or displacement what were in all probability very small populations of local hunter-gatherers. The following paragraphs present the evidence for migration in more detail. the colonization of cyprus Prior to excavations in the 1990s it was considered unlikely that there were any aceramic Neolithic settlements on Cyprus earlier than those of Khirokitian date, ca. 7000 BC. The ninth-millennium-BC dates for Kalavassos Tenta that Todd (1987) recorded were thought to be anomalous, as were the circular stone-based houses, which, it was argued, could not have predated those at Khirokitia. The indefinable traces of pre-Khirokitian sedentary occupation only reinforced ideas that the original dispersal episodes from the Levantine corridor (to coastal Syria and across to Cyprus) occurred in the Late PrePottery Neolithic B (LPPNB) (e.g., Cauvin 1989). The sug-
gestion by Simmons et al. (1999) that the inhabitants of the eleventh-millennium-BC rock shelter at Akrotiri-Aetokremnos were transitory foragers who briefly exploited the available resources and then left the island did nothing to dispel these ideas. Recent excavations, however, have identified six Neolithic sites that date to the first half of the ninth millennium BC, showing that there was much earlier permanent migration and colonization by Neolithic farming communities (Peltenburg et al. 2001). Domestic cereals and subsistence animals (domestic pig, morphologically wild cattle, sheep, and goat) have been documented, together with a chipped stone inventory broadly analogous to the EPPNB in the Levant. The absence of indigenous foragers and equivalent animal or plant species (i.e., wild progenitors of the domestic species) in the Pleistocene/early-Holocene records means that the crops and livestock were brought to the island by the early settlers. Peltenburg argues that at this time Cyprus was included in a PPNB “interaction sphere,” a network of contacts between different regions in the Levant that facilitated trade and exchange of materials. Aspects of subsistence, technology, settlement organization, and ideology have been used to infer links with the northern Levantine corridor in the EPPNB (Peltenburg et al. 2001: 38–39). He also suggests that the migratory populations originated from coastal Syria (from sites which have yet to be found and/or have since been flooded) and that their ability to adjust their lifeways to the unpredictable sealevel changes of this time would have prepared them well for resettlement in new, unknown territories on the island. emergence of agriculture in central anatolia For the purposes of this discussion we need only highlight that evidence for Late Pleistocene occupation in central Anatolia is absent, although the coastal areas of the Mediterranean and Sea of Marmara have provided ¨ zdog˘an 1997:17). data on hunter-gatherer activities (O This lack of evidence can perhaps be explained in terms of the erasure of traces of earlier habitation in areas like the fertile plains around Konya and Karaman by significant alluvial sediments (Baird 2002, Roberts 1991). An extensive survey of this area designed in part to address this problem has, however, so far failed to recover definitive evidence for Pleistocene settlement (Baird 2002). There is correspondingly limited data about early Holocene hunter-gatherers, but the ongoing excavations at Pinarbas¸ı are likely to improve this situation (Baird 2002: 142–43; Watkins 1996). There must have been at least short-term occupation by mobile groups, if not more permanent settlement, from around the late tenth millennium BC, as small amounts of Anatolian obsidian are found at a few Levantine PPNA sites (Binder 2002:81; Cauvin et al. 1998). Recent evidence for an early-ninthmillennium obsidian “workshop” at Kaletepe is perhaps significant in this regard (Balkan-Atlı and Binder 2000). The earliest farming community yet known in central
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Anatolia is As¸ıklıho¨yu¨k, near Kaletepe and close to obsidian sources. As¸ıklıho¨yu¨k was occupied for several centuries from approximately 8400 BC,9 and the community shares many basic characteristics with PPNB sites of the Levant, among them rectangular housing with extensive plastering and a technological variant of the so-called naviform core-reduction method (Balkan-Atlı 1994, Binder 2002). The range of domestic crops present at As¸ıklıho¨yu¨k is similar to that found on the earliest farming settlements in the Levant (Asouti and Fairburn 2002). The faunal assemblage, however, appears to be composed entirely of wild species. Later Anatolian aceramic Neolithic sites, such as Can Hasan III in southern central Anatolia (mid-eighth millennium BC), are similar in nature, with broadly analogous plant economies and dependence on wild animals. The paucity of pre-Neolithic central Anatolian sites is in striking contrast with the situation in the Levantine core, where Terminal Pleistocene hunter-gatherer settlements are abundant. The evidence from central Anatolia draws us naturally towards a model in which Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene hunter-gatherers were largely absent or present in only small numbers. Given the sudden appearance of large PPNB-like villages using domestic crop species common to the Levant and no evidence for settlements equivalent in form to the PPNA, the most parsimonious explanation for the origins of farming in central Anatolia is that there was an influx of farmers during the first half of the ninth millennium BC.
Perle`s (2001) provides an excellent summary of the character of the earliest Neolithic sites on Crete and Greece in terms of their chronological framework and potential origin. The evidence from the mainland sites of Gediki, Sesklo, Argissa, and Franchthi Cave and Knossos on Crete is strongly suggestive of an initial wave of settlement from the seventh millennium BC, but Perle`s stresses the difficulty in pinpointing an origin for the migrants. Although they certainly arrived from the east and brought with them a domestic crop and livestock package and new forms of material culture, it is unclear whether Crete and Greece were first settled by farming communities whose origins were in Anatolia or CyproLevantine groups followed a coastal Anatolian and “island-hopping” route to the Aegean (Broodbank and Strasser 1991, Demoule and Perle`s 1993). The hints of aceramic Neolithic settlement in northwestern Anatolia might indicate a more northerly route into southeastern ¨ zdog˘an 1997:17–19), but the lack of comparable Europe (O Early Neolithic data in northeastern Greece militates against this model, at least for the first phases of colonization. A more southerly coastal and island-hopping route for Early Neolithic settlement, in which migrant farmers arrived from coastal Anatolia in a “jump-dispersal” process (van Andel and Runnels 1995), is therefore more likely (cf. Davis 1992:702).
the colonization of crete and mainland greece
If the migration hypothesis for the initial spread of farming in the Eastern Mediterranean is valid, then we would expect to find corroborative patterns in the archaeobotanical record. Our analysis of the taxonomic composition of the sites has demonstrated that archaeobotanical records are of sufficiently high resolution to detect “vegetational signatures” on the basis of similar patterns of taxon presence. These are evident in the form of clusters of sites that show strong spatial patterning. We propose that the data are therefore suitable for charting the spread of species or groups of species between and across the different regions. This is illustrated in the example we describe here, in which we present the results of our exploration of the compositional variation of aceramic Neolithic phases of sites in Jordan, Syria, Israel, Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, and Crete (tables 3 and 4), covering a period of from ca. 10,000 BC to ca. 6500 BC. Presence/absence of taxa formed the basis of the analysis. We used correspondence analysis,10 an established multivariate statistical technique used by both ecologists and archaeologists and well suited to the exploratory analysis of binary data (Greenacre 1984; Shennan 1997:308–52), to investigate these data. Domestic crops, wild cereals, and weed taxa, excluding taxa that occurred in less than 5% of phases, were selected. [A detailed explanation of the rationale for data selection and the
Crete and Greece have traditionally been considered separately in terms of Neolithization, as there is no convincing evidence for any settlement of Crete prior to the earliest Neolithic of Knossos, whereas indigenous hunter-gatherers had lived in very low densities for some millennia on the Greek mainland (Runnels 1995). There can be no doubt, therefore, that Crete was colonized by migrant farmers (Broodbank and Strasser 1991), but the relationship between hunter-gatherers and farming communities on the mainland is controversial (Halstead 1996, Tringham 2000). Although the consensus is solidly in favour of an exogenous origin for the latter, an important focus of research in recent years has been the development of models that attempt to describe the origins, impetus, and sequence of events that brought early Neolithic settlers to Crete and Greece (Perle`s 2001, Halstead 1996). Unfortunately, the relationship between the latest hunter-gatherer and the earliest Neolithic settlements on the mainland remains ambiguous, and the chronic low density of sites dated to this period (i.e., ca. 7000 BC) prohibits detailed modelling of the transition (Andreou, Fotiadis, and Kotsakis 1996:596–97). 9. Radiocarbon dates for Anatolian sites have been obtained from the CANeW project (Central Anatolian Neolithic e-Workshop) at http://chez.com/canew/cadata.htm.
Temporal and Spatial Parameters of the Earliest Domestic Cereals
10. Using CANOCO 4.5, and Canodraw for Windows (ter Braak and Smilauer 2002).
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table 4 Sites and Phases Included in the Analysis, 8400–6500 Cal BC
table 3 Sites and Phases Included in the Analysis, 10,000–8000 Cal BC Site 10,000–8000 Cal BC Aswad Iraq ed-Dubb Jerf al Ahmar
Mureybit Mureybit Netiv Hagdud 8800–8400 Cal BC Aswad C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ Dja’de Kissonerga Mylouthkia Mureybit Nevali C ¸ ori Wadi Jilat 7
Level Ia PPNA levels Trench A15 (Bx, By, Bz, Cx, Cy) and Trench A90 (Bc, Cx, Cy, Ex, Ey) Level II Level III Loci 1002–1007, 1013, and 1014
AsIa IeDII JA
MuII MuIII NH
Site 8400–7500 Cal BC ’Ain Ghazal As¸ıklıho¨yu¨k Aswad Beidha C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ C ¸ afer Ho¨yu¨k C ¸ afer Ho¨yu¨k C ¸ afer Ho¨yu¨k
Level Ib Grill building, basal pits, and channelled building PPNA/EPPNB contexts Level IA
Level IV PPNB contexts Trench A
MuIV NC WJ7I
Ghoraife´ Halula Hacilar Jericho
Nahal Hemar Wadi Jilat 7
full data set are provided in the electronic edition of this issue on the journal’s web page.] The resultant data matrix comprises 60 phases and 70 taxa. Results. In the correspondence analysis plot of figure 6, the horizontal axis (axis 1) separates a majority of the Jordanian sites, the Israeli, Greek, Cypriot, and Cretan sites, and the Syrian sites in the Damascus Basin and on the Mediterranean coast from the Turkish sites (with the exception of one, CAIe) and the Syrian sites in the Euphrates Valley and the central steppe region (with the exception of one, EKI). There is also grouping of phases along axis 2: the Damascus Basin/Mediterranean coastal Syrian sites are distinct from the Jordanian/Greek/Cypriot/Cretan sites (the Israeli sites are divided between two groups). The analysis has therefore resulted in strong geographic patterning of the aceramic Neolithic phases, most noticeably forming a distinction between the Jordanian/Greek/Cypriot/Cretan sites and the Syrian/Turkish sites. In the bi-plot of figure 7, the distributions of taxa and phases are superimposed. For clarity, only the domestic crops (i.e., founder crops and secondary domesticates) and wild progenitor species (if present in the data set) are highlighted with distinguishing symbols and labelled in full. Most noticeably, the wild cereals are separated from all the domestic crop species (including cereals, pulses, and flax) on axis 1. This strong separation between wild and domestic species therefore matches the clear distinction between the two sets of sites on axis 1. The wild cereals correspond with the distribution of the Turkish and Syrian sites in the Euphrates Valley and central steppe; the domestic crops are associated with the Jordanian, Israeli, Greek, Cypriot, and Cretan sites
7500–6500 Cal BC Abu Hureyra Abu Hureyra Argissa Magoula Azraq 31 Basta Bouqras C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ Cape Andreas Kastros Can Hasan III C ¸ atalho¨yu¨k C ¸ atalho¨yu¨k C ¸ atalho¨yu¨k Dhali-Agridhi El Kowm I El Kowm II Franchthi Cave Ghoraife´ Gediki Halula Khirokitia Khirokitia Khirokitia Kissonerga Mylouthkia Knossos ParekklishaShillourokambos Ramad Ramad Ras Shamra Sesklo Wadi Fidan A Wadi Fidan C Wadi Jilat 13
M/LPPNB contexts Phase 2 Level II Phases A and B Cobble-paved building Phase I: levels III and IV Phase II: levels V to VIII Phase III: levels IX to XIII Level I MPPNB contexts PPN levels Trench D1 (stages XVII, XIV, XXIII), trench EI, II, V (stages XII, XIII), trench FI (stages XXI, XXIV) and trench TrI (stage XIX) Strata 3 and 4 Trench B (squares 1–4, 5–8)
AG AsH AsII BE CAIc CHI
Level 2A Level 2B
AH2A AH2B AMI Az31 BA BQ CAId CAIe CAK
Square 1 Phases 3 and 4 Levels 1–10 Cell building Large room building Aceramic contexts
CHII CHIII GhI HAI HrI JEII
Trenches 48K and 49L Pre-level XIIA Pre-level XIIB Pre-level XIIC/D Layer III Phase A, Level IX El Kowm 2 Caracol Zone VI trenches FAS and FAN Level II Aceramic contexts M/LPPNB contexts Trench E Small sounding Trench W Level IB
GhII Gk HAII KhE KhTh KhW KMIB
Stratum X Phase 4
Level I Level II Trench Vc “Aceramic” level Areas 006 and 007 Area 001 Trenches B, C
RaI RaII RsVc SkI WFA WFC WJ13
CtHPXII-A CtHPXII-B CtHPXII-C/D DA EKIa EKII FCVI
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Fig. 6. Correspondence analysis plot of aceramic Neolithic site phases for domestic cereals, pulses, flax, wild cereals, and weed taxa. (For phase codes, see tables 3 and 4.)
and the Syrian sites in the Damascus Basin and on the Mediterranean coast. On axis 2 the glume wheats and hulled barley are clearly distinguished from the freethreshing wheats and naked barley. Pea and lentil are aligned with the former group and chick pea and flax with the latter. As with the obvious correspondence between site groups and wild or domestic crop types on axis 1, then, there is an equally clear correlation between the hulled and naked cereals and the Jordanian/Greek/ Cypriot/Cretan sites versus the Damascus Basin/Mediterranean coastal Syrian sites on axis 2. Before interpreting these patterns it is necessary to take into account both the limitations of the method
and other factors that may be influencing the distribution of phases and sites. Limitations. Zohary and Hopf (2000:247) warn against the “unevenness” of the archaeobotanical record with reference to their attempts to reconstruct agricultural origins and diffusion. Similar caution should also be applied to this study. Over a period of ca. 40 years (from the 1960s) many archaeologists and archaeobotanists have been responsible for the excavation, sampling, and analyses of the sites recorded in our database, and there has no doubt been great variation in their methods and approaches. It is inevitable, therefore, that the resultant data, in part, reflect these disparities. For example, the
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Fig. 7. Correspondence analysis bi-plot of aceramic Neolithic sites for domestic cereals, pulses, flax, wild cereals, and weed taxa. (For country key, see figure 6.) methods by which the plant remains were recovered from the sites vary, and it may be that the taxonomic comparisons we have made are between sites where samples were hand-picked versus those where there was recovery by flotation using graduated sieves. In the former case only taxa represented by plant parts large enough to be visible to the naked eye would have been recognized and extracted, whereas with flotation recovery even the smallest weed seed or fragment of chaff would have been retained and subsequently identified. The de-
gree to which the archaeobotanical record is representative of the range of taxa preserved on different sites may also be dependent on the relative thoroughness of sampling—for example, there may be variations in the number of samples taken, the size of the samples, and the range of context types sampled. In some instances there were no records of recovery, sampling, and processing and therefore no means of establishing whether the data were compromised because of inconsistent or inefficient methodologies. The taphonomic processes
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operating at the sites are doubtless varied, but analysis at the level of presence/absence precludes further exploration of the extent to which these have been a factor in deposition and preservation of plant materials. A more in-depth examination (see, e.g., Colledge 2001:97–108) would be necessary to establish the possible influence of taphonomy on the composition of samples from the different sites and thus on the overall data set. Interestingly, in a similar study, Lange found that there had been very little measurable effect (in terms of the results of correspondence analysis) on archaeobotanical samples from Roman sites: “Although it is likely that taphonomic processes do alter the original composition of the assemblages, it has been found in this study that these processes have not been responsible for the most important trends in the data” (1990:135). It is beyond the scope of this paper to deal with all the possible anomalies that may have arisen because of the non-standard approaches to the identification and/or recording of taxa by different archaeobotanists. An element of bias is bound to have been introduced as a consequence. However, the fact that correspondence analysis resulted in coherent patterns of sites clustered in accordance with their geographic location suggests to us that, despite the potential problems just described, there is a substantial degree of integrity in the primary data that warrants interpretation at an appropriate level. In this regard, it is significant that the results show compositionally distinctive but internally homogeneous clusters. In some instances, sites and phases that cluster together were analyzed by a single archaeobotanist (e.g., van Zeist studied the Damascus Basin sites and many of the Euphrates Valley sites). Other clusters contain sites and phases examined by several analysts. Moreover, some archaeobotanists (e.g., van Zeist, Willcox) were responsible for the identifications of remains at sites that fall into two widely spaced clusters (e.g., Cyprus and the northern Levant [Syrian sites in the Euphrates Valley and central steppe]). We argue therefore that neither idiosyncratic methods of analysis nor differential skill levels of the archaeobotanists responsible for the collection of the primary data are ultimately responsible for the observed patterning in the correspondence analysis. Instead, we propose that these patterns in part reflect regional variations relating to the emergence and initial dispersal of the founder crops. Interpretation. Here we are concerned primarily with the spatial dynamics of the origins and dispersal of the earliest (i.e., founder) crop cereals. The overlapping phases of the southern Levantine (i.e., all the Jordanian sites and one Israeli site), Cypriot, Cretan, and Greek sites reflect a similarity in the cereal and pulse crops represented but, most significant, in the prevalence of domestic glume wheats and hulled barley that could be indicative of the earliest migratory routes taken by farming communities after the establishment of the founder-crop cereals. The northern Levantine, southeastern Turkish, and central Anatolian sites cluster to the left of the plot, partly because of the presence of wild cereals, possibly indicating their use at certain of the
sites both prior and subsequent to the emergence of the domestic species. The grouping of the central Levantine sites (Damascus Basin and coastal sites) in the lower right quadrant reflects the frequent occurrence of freethreshing wheats and naked barley, as well as chick pea and flax, in the plant assemblages from this region. The weed taxa are also of fundamental importance, for these too affect the overall distribution of the phases and sites manifest in the correspondence analysis plots. In this respect calculations of the mean number of weed taxa represented in the site clusters are informative (table 5). For example, for sites associated with the domestic glume wheats and hulled barley (i.e., the upper right quadrant), the mean number of taxa is low (4.30) in comparison with that of the group of sites associated with the wild cereals (i.e., the upper left and lower left quadrants), which is 12.88. Interestingly, the mean number of taxa for the group of sites associated with the freethreshing wheats and naked barley (i.e., the lower right quadrant) is also high (12.75). If our plots do in fact represent the spatial dynamics of the migration of peoples with their crops to new locations beyond the Levantine core, then the low numbers of weed taxa found in association with the earliest domestic cereals could be accounted for by the fact that cleaned grain stocks were being transported and sown in fields recently cleared of the local wild flora. By contrast, those areas in which it is proposed that the cereals evolved—and in which many of the segetal species also probably originated (Zohary 1973:647)—show a greater diversity of weeds, presumably because early fields cultivated with relatively primitive techniques would have been heavily infested. The characteristics of the weed component of assemblages of charred remains included with crop species associated with early farming systems have already been proven informative about the dynamics, both anthropogenic and ecological, of the spread of agriculture (see, e.g., Bogaard 2002; Colledge 1998, 2002; Hillman 2000; Hillman et al. 2001). The significance of the numbers of taxa and taxon diversity has been demonstrated by more comprehensive quantitative research on the development of weed floras through time in central Europe (Willerding 1986, Ro¨sch 1998). These studies have shown that the numbers of weed species found in association with crops in archaeobotanical assemblages were lowest table 5 Numbers of Weed Taxa in Early Neolithic Phases by Region Region
Southern Levant Central Levant Northern Levant Cyprus Southeast Turkey Central Turkey Crete and Greece
5.92 14.13 15.67 5.50 7.63 12.50 2.00
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in the initial stages of colonization in the Early Neolithic, as our study indicates, with a significant increase by the Late Neolithic. Willerding lists a total of 44 weed taxa in the Early Neolithic (an increase of only 36 from the preceding Mesolithic period) and an addition of another 76 by the Middle/Late Neolithic (1986:309). Ro¨sch distinguishes native species (apophytes) and immigrants, brought in by farmers (anthropochores), and finds apophytes dominant in the Early Neolithic but decreasing through time as the numbers of anthropochores increase. He proposes directional origins for the latter and suggests that the relative mobility of farmers and/or the intensification of farming practices could explain the differences in weed floras through time (1998:121–22). More complex analytical work is required to account for the processes that gave rise to the patterns of weed taxa. However, even at this early stage in our research we find it encouraging that our data might also be used to document the spread of the weed floras associated with the dispersal of the earliest domestic crops. In more general terms, we propose that the vegetational signatures that characterize the suites of plants found on the early settlements can be accounted for in terms of both the different regional uses of particular elements of the exported crop package and an initial reduction in taxon diversity. The reduction in taxon diversity relates to both the ecological conditions of the fields in the newly colonized regions and the anthropogenic effect of transportation of the crop package. The specific anthropogenic factors related to the observed correspondence in assemblage characteristics between the southern Levant, Cyprus, Crete, and Greece deserve further exploration, but at this stage we tentatively propose a combination of (1) a greater investment of time in the cultivation of crops in order to maintain stocks once geographically isolated from their source (for example, better field maintenance and crop-processing techniques that resulted in “cleaner” grain stocks and correspondingly lower weed presence in the assemblages) and (2) an early and continued use of domestic cereals in preference to wild cereals. This can be contrasted with the situation in the northern Levant and southeastern and central Anatolia, where at certain sites wild cereals were used throughout the aceramic Neolithic and where field maintenance and crop processing were less fastidious, resulting in greater infestation of weeds. These are only hypotheses, but we forward them as one set of possible reasons for the observed patterning in our comparative analysis of archaeobotanical assemblages.
from a Levantine core over a period of nearly three millennia. The subsequent foundation of Neolithic settlements in southeastern Europe is the beginning of a long and complex process of colonization of new landscapes, together with the displacement, acculturation, and/or assimilation of indigenous European Mesolithic huntergatherers. Our findings support a model in which cereal domestication first emerges in the Levantine corridor during the PPNA of the early tenth millennium BC and is then restricted to a few sites in the southern and central Levant for the next 400–500 years. Domestic cereals appear at approximately the same time, about 8700 BC, in southeastern Anatolia and on Cyprus in EPPNB contexts. Only in southeastern Anatolia has the possibility of in situ domestication been considered. Cyprus is notable for representing the first definite evidence of a targeted migration by farming communities, sometime in the early ninth millennium BC. Two or three centuries later, by 8500 BC, central Anatolia was first settled by agricultural colonists, probably from a northern Levantine source. Finally, at the end of the eighth millennium, agricultural colonists arrived at approximately the same time in southern Greece and Crete, and the archaeobotanical evidence suggests Cyprus and/or the Levant as the likely source of these migrants. The archaeobotanical assemblages in each of these regions possess distinctive vegetational signatures that can in part be explained by differing regional patterns in the use of particular domesticates. Another major source of the patterning is the reduction in taxon diversity, including weed taxa, as crop packages were transported from their areas of origin. From a methodological perspective, this paper has demonstrated that the quantification and multivariate analysis of properly collated archaeobotanical data, even recorded at the level of taxonomic presence/absence, is of sufficiently high resolution to contribute to our understanding of the earliest phases of the transition to farming. It is with some optimism, therefore, that we continue our documentation and comparative analysis of archaeobotanical assemblages from early Neolithic sites in Europe.
Summary and Conclusion
peter bellwood Department of Archaeology and Natural History, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia ([email protected]
). 13 v 04
The regionally distinctive composition of archaeobotanical assemblages from aceramic Neolithic sites in southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe has been determined through multivariate analysis. The structure of the data lends support to a hypothesis of agricultural colonization of Cyprus, central Anatolia, Crete, and Greece
My comments are confined to the underlying claim, made in the abstract and introduction but clearly not a central issue for the authors, that crop packages of the type identified can be equated with the movement of actual colonizing farmers rather than with cultural diffusion amongst hunter-gatherers. I agree wholeheartedly
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with this claim and note that genetic evidence exists that could be argued to support it. For instance, King and Underhill (2002) point to very significant correlations between the distributions of painted pottery and anthropomorphic figurines in the Neolithic Levant, Anatolia, and southeastern Europe and the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroup Eu9. This correlation is said to support a hypothesis of demic diffusion, at least of males, out of southwestern Asia. While later than the PPNB, these relationships could nevertheless be tracking an earlier population expansion. On a more general theoretical level, how can we equate consistent and coherent economic packages of the type described, clearly migratory out of the Levant in terms of the movements of the crops and weeds themselves, with colonizing farming groups, in this case of PPNA and EPPNB origin? I have recently tried to answer this question in terms of the movements of agricultural complexes and language families in many parts of the world (Bellwood 2004), and related issues have been discussed in depth by many authors, with many differing shades of opinion, in Bellwood and Renfrew (2003). Some recent debates within archaeology have tended towards the conclusion that “packages,” “cultures,” and other normative entities have never existed, in step with a general trend in social anthropology to deny the existence of discrete societies. World history from this viewpoint reflects an eternal process of creolization. To me this is a little like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Widespread and internally homogeneous complexes of material culture and/or crops have existed from time to time, as this paper shows. They reflect relatively punctuated episodes of expansion. Migration of a population into a new territory, carrying cultural items honed to ensure its very survival, is one such form of punctuated expansion that is easy to visualize with the hindsight of recent history in many parts of the world. This paper takes an important stance in favour of population movement as a significant factor in prehistory. The authors do not discuss their reasons in any depth, since the focus is clearly on the crop package itself rather than on the mechanisms behind its spread. Perhaps they can expand on this issue in their reply. laurent bouby CEPAM, CNRS UMR 6130, Sophia-Antipolis, 250 Rue Albert Einstein, 06560 Valbonne, France ([email protected]
cepam.cnrs.fr). 14 v 04 Colledge and colleagues are to be commended for their useful review of archaeobotanical data from aceramic Neolithic sites of southwestern Asia and southeastern Europe in close connection with 14C dates. Of special interest is the chronological and spatial analysis that allows them to reintroduce archaeobotanical information into the debate about the cultural and demographic processes underlying the spread of agriculture. Multivariate analysis is particularly useful for investigating the temporal and spatial patterning of archaeological data, and
it is probably not yet sufficiently employed in archaeobotany. Colledge et al. cautiously point to some limitations of the archaeobotanical record due to disparities in sampling, recovery, and analytical methodologies and taphonomic processes. Crop-processing activities should also be mentioned, as they directly affect the relative proportions of crop grains, chaff, and weed seeds. I am also convinced that the coherent geographical patterning of the correspondence analysis results indicates that the above-mentioned limitations do not suffice to blur the original variability between sites. I am wondering if a more sophisticated quantification than the simple presence/absence record would not be useful for getting a more accurate perception of these differences. For example, it might permit discriminating between the really cultivated dominant taxa and other domesticated plants that may have been transported as weeds and are therefore recorded in small numbers. Of course, it is very difficult to compare sites or taxa using rough counts of plant remains, in particular because of some of the limitations described by Colledge and colleagues, but presence/absence does not eliminate all the problems (the most numerous taxa being the most easily and frequently recorded), and it necessarily involves a reduction of information (e.g., Kadane 1988, Jones 1991). The use of relative quantification (such as percentage) or a semiquantitative scale of abundance may be an alternative solution and produces information that can easily be used for multivariate analysis (Bouby and Marinval 2004). The results and discussion on weeds are very interesting. It is shown in the paper that weeds are of some importance in the discrimination of geographical groups and that they are more diversified in the areas where cereals would have been domesticated, including those in which wild cereals were still in use throughout the aceramic Neolithic. The hypothesis of the reduction of weed taxon diversity with the transport of crop packages, correlated with a transition from weak to greater investment in field maintenance and crop-processing activities between areas of origin of domesticated plants and newly colonized regions, is of great interest. However, the role in weed taxon diversity assigned to the use of wild cereals is not very clear. Perhaps a little more attention should be paid to the fact that not all of the herbaceous wild plants are necessarily weeds involuntarily collected with crops. Some of them may have been gathered on purpose, especially in areas where people were accustomed to collecting wild cereals and pulses (i.e., herbaceous wild plants). As an archaeobotanist working in the western Mediterranean, I have been especially intrigued by the clear separation between the hulled cereals, peas, and lentils that are dominant in Jordan, Greece, Cyprus, and Crete and the free-threshing wheats, naked barley, chick peas, and flax associated with the Damascus basin and Mediterranean coastal Syrian sites. In the western Mediterranean a similar opposition is also documented during the early Neolithic. While hulled wheats are dominant in Italy and in the earliest Neolithic sites of southern
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France, clearly connected with the northwestern Italian peninsula (the Ligurian group), in the subsequent Cardial culture and, to a lesser extent, in Spain free-threshing wheats and naked barley play a major part (Marinval 1992, Binder et al. 1993). At the present time no clear hypothesis is proposed to explain this separation. Will some kind of indirect relations someday be hypothesized between coastal Syria and the northwestern Mediterranean? However this may be, we will look forward to Colledge et al.’s future work with special interest, hoping that results for the whole Mediterranean and Europe will soon be available. It would be of great interest to take into account archaeozoological data. Correspondence analysis applied to faunal records has proved useful in pointing to geographical patterning of sites from Greece to the Iberian Peninsula (Vigne and Helmer 1999, Vigne 2003). Two broad areas, not exactly corresponding to those perceived by archaeobotany, are distinguished; Greece and southern Italy, on the one hand, are separated from central and northern Italy, southern France, and eastern Spain, on the other. Hunting plays a major part in the distinction: important in the western group, it is insignificant in Greece and southern Italy. However, in the western region some sites seem to be connected with the central Mediterranean and could document colonization from that area. Processes of diffusion of animal breeding seem to be more diversified in the western part of the Mediterranean basin than in the central and eastern part, implying direct colonization over rather long distances as well as more significant acculturation of Mesolithic people (Vigne and Helmer 1999, Vigne 2003). It is time to reintroduce agriculture, through archaeobotanical results, into the debate. julie hansen Department of Archaeology, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215, U.S.A. ([email protected]
). 21 v 04 This is a fascinating paper that piques one’s curiosity for more information. The authors have, for the first time, utilized agricultural remains to elucidate the question of the spread of agriculture. What a novel idea! Earlier works have proposed models using such diverse data as language and trade in (now invisible) goods. What better way to address the spread of agriculture than to look at agricultural products? Those of us who have written about the plant remains from pre- and post-Neolithic sites in the Eastern Mediterranean have generally tabulated what was found where and when and implicitly, if not explicitly, acknowledged a demic diffusion along the lines of a wave of advance. The utilization of correspondence analysis to examine the actual distribution in time and space of the crops, their precursors, and weed assemblages provides a new dimension of analysis that proves to be extremely fruitful. As exciting as this prospect is, it is not without its problems, many of which the authors themselves take pains to explicate. The first of these is the effect of var-
iability in recovery methods on the presence or absence of some species. In particular, their comment that the “low numbers of weed taxa found in association with the earliest domestic cereals could be accounted for by the fact that cleaned grain stocks were being transported and sown in fields recently cleared of the local wild flora,” while probably correct, needs to be qualified by the recognition that three of the four Greek sites that they use for the analysis were not systematically watersieved and produced few plant remains overall. The intensive flotation programs at many of the Near Eastern sites have no counterparts in Greece or Crete with the possible exception of Franchthi Cave. Here, however, stratigraphic problems inside the cave (e.g., crosscutting) and taphonomic issues outside on paralia (e.g., wet-dry cycles breaking up and dispersing carbonized plant remains) make the Early Neolithic material from this site both scarce (nonexistent in paralia samples) and without clear contexts. A second problem that is not fully discussed is that, although only presence/absence of taxa on the sites is considered, the contexts from which those taxa were recovered have a significant effect on what is or is not present. At Franchthi Cave no specific contexts can be identified for the material from Zone VI, which appears to be scatter from hearths and general debris on the cave floor and fill. It is unlikely that this represents the full range of botanical material that might have been present on the site, especially since the primary living area may have been outside the cave at this time. Samples from Ghediki, Argissa, and Knossos come from fairly small areas of the site and are equally unlikely to be representative of all the contexts. Thus, the absence of weed flora from these sites may be a function of contexts sampled as much as agricultural practices. Another issue that needs clarification is the assignment of botanical material to a specific phase on the basis of calibrated radiocarbon dates rather than the associated material culture that defines the phase. I have struggled with the Near East chronology for decades trying to determine a clear and accurate breakdown of the periods and phases. This is a daunting task, given the very large number of dates (in general a good thing) and the diverse nomenclature used for the various phases in different areas and by different researchers, and it is one best left to those more familiar with both the archaeological details of each site and the intricacies of radiocarbon dating. At Jericho Colledge et al. have moved the plant remains from the PPNA to the EPPNB on the basis of the radiocarbon chronology, despite the fact that they were found in a PPNA stratum. While I applaud their attempts to grapple with the Near Eastern chronology, I cannot accept that material that is in an otherwise clearly PPNA context should be assigned to the EPPNB because the radiocarbon dates are later than PPNA dates at Aswad and Iraq ed-Dubb. We define cultural phases on the basis of the material culture contained in the strata. If there is a later date for these strata, then there should be a longer chronology for the phase or a slightly different chronology for Jericho than for Aswad or Iraq
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ed-Dubb. Perhaps there is a more detailed explanation in the cited article by Colledge (2004), which I have not yet seen. The database being compiled and the further analyses to come hold tremendous promise for our understanding of the origins and spread of agriculture, as well as for many other questions palaeoethnobotanists have been trying to address, and I for one am extremely grateful for these researchers’ efforts. david r. harris Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY, U.K. ([email protected]
). 20 v 04 Ever since Grahame Clark illustrated, with the radiocarbon dates available to him in 1965, the Neolithic spread of agriculture to and through Europe from the Near East that Gordon Childe had earlier postulated, there has been a need to test the hypothesis against archaeobotanical data. Archaeobotany was only a fledgling subdiscipline in the 1960s, and when it did come to be practiced more widely and systematically in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s most specialists confined their attention to local sites and areas within national boundaries. Even as recently as 1998, a resolution passed at a conference in Venice on the Neolithic transition in Europe recommended that an AMS radiocarbon-dating program of “well-provenienced and well-identified samples of . . . plant remains of wheat, barley, and rye” from early Neolithic sites in Europe and western Asia should be undertaken (Ammerman and Biagi 2003:343). Now, almost 40 years after Clark’s paper appeared, Colledge, Conolly, and Shennan have taken the long-awaited first step in that direction by producing a critical analysis and synthesis of the archaeobotanical data now available from aceramic sites in the Levantine–east Mediterranean region. Their very welcome paper marks a turning point in the protracted debate about how agriculture spread into and across Europe during the early Neolithic. It shows that, despite the many limitations of the archaeobotanical record, comparative, multivariate analysis of the published data on the plant assemblages and radiocarbon dates for the principal pre- and early Neolithic sites in the region can yield new, well-founded interpretations of the probable routes of agricultural spread and the nature of early Neolithic agricultural practices. A particular strength of their analysis is that it is not limited to the founder crops of the early Neolithic (einkorn and emmer wheat, hulled barley, lentils, peas, chick peas, bitter vetch, and flax) but also includes many wild and weedy taxa. The latter have tended to be overlooked in interpretations of the spread of the so-called Neolithic crop package, but their incorporation into the large relational database that Colledge et al. are now creating allows much closer examination of the role of weeds and wild plants in the earliest agricultural systems of southwestern Asia and Europe. The different ecological requirements of weedy taxa are a potentially powerful
means of differentiating between, for example, systems of cultivation on lowland alluvial soils and on thinner, less fertile upland soils and determining whether irrigation was practiced. The value of including weedy taxa in their analysis is also demonstrated by the authors’ working hypothesis of two contrasted routes by which agriculture may have reached Europe: the southern Levantine-Cypriot-Aegean coastal route and the northern Levant–southeast-centralAnatolian inland route. This distinction helps to focus attention on what are likely to have been key areas and environments in the dispersal of crops and weeds westward from the Levant, and it should stimulate targeted prospecting for early Neolithic sites, for example, along the southern Turkish coast. Colledge et al.’s discussion of the possible significance of the contrasts between the domestic and especially the weed floras of the southern Levant–Aegean and the northern Levant–Anatolian routes prompts me to wonder whether the lower weed diversity they report for the southern route, beyond the Levantine core area, might reflect both environmental and agrarian differences with the northern one. Did the PPNB agricultural package spread (probably by demic diffusion) west to the Aegean mainly by means of the episodic selection of patches of seasonally watered alluvial soils along river channels that would naturally have supported ephemeral or at least sparse vegetation, requiring less clearance and less susceptible to weed infestation than upland areas with denser and more diverse vegetation? Could the increase in weed diversity later in the Neolithic on which Colledge et al. comment reflect the extension of agriculture from small patches of alluvial soil cultivated initially into larger, ecologically more diverse areas upslope, perhaps associated with the development of systems of shifting cultivation? These may be speculations that take us too far from the available evidence, but they illustrate the great potential value—of which this paper is the first fruit—of the uniquely comprehensive and interactive archaeobotanical database now being created. konstantinos kotsakis Department of Archaeology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, GR-54006 Thessaloniki, Greece ([email protected]
). 17 v 04 The authors of this paper are to be congratulated for bringing together the archaeobotanical evidence from the Eastern Mediterranean in a comprehensive synthesis. There is a lot of merit in an approach dealing with the large-scale, despite the obvious fact that the finer details are, by definition, given less attention. If nothing else, large-scale syntheses offer a sense of historical process and are necessary for integrating local histories and archaeologies into one apparently seamless narrative. It follows that there are two domains which, in a broader discussion, deserve our attention: on the level of the evidence, the integrity and comparability of the facts, and
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on the level of interpretation, the semantics of our analytical concepts. I will discuss the second domain first. Of course, problems of recognition and definition aside, “domesticated” species are a biological entity, but as an element of what we understand by the term “agriculture” domesticates are predominantly a medium of human agency. The problem is that, as such, they transcend the strict biological definition: they can be manipulated, preferred, or neglected, and their presence/absence becomes inextricably linked to the social domain, with all its referents. The transition to agriculture thus becomes a historically situated process in which “domesticates” as an analytical category eventually lose the essentialist content that was borrowed from their biological meaning in the first place. Obviously, this remark points towards the smallscale and the local and builds a discussion around the ontology of agriculture or—to use more philosophical terms—around the distinction between the essence and the existence of agriculture. Significant variability of the “package” of domesticates throughout the Neolithic can be traced in the archaeobotanical samples from Greece, testifying to the active modification of the package in particular localities and regions (Valamoti and Kotsakis n.d.). The second issue is the reliability of the data, and it becomes more critical once we try to move away from the integrative approach adopted in the article. I can only comment, however, for the samples from Greece. With the exception of Franchthi and in part Knossos, these early Neolithic archaeobotanical samples were collected under variable and often unspecified conditions. All the excavations included in the database were concluded by the early 1970s. The Thessalian samples in particular were collected in the 1960s without any water-sieving, relying on the hand-picking of visible charred plant remains, and information on their archaeological context is usually scant to nonexistent. For example, Gediki, a rescue dig carried out in 1962, was limited to a trench covering an area of no more than 2 m2 in an undefined context. Even for the well-studied site of Franchthi, the evidence for domesticated plants in the earliest Neolithic levels is restricted to 27 specimens of emmer, 8 of lentil, and 5 of barley. These observations might be enough to cast serious doubt on the reliability of the few samples available, but it can be argued that, unfortunate as it may be, they represent all we have. In any case, it should be kept in mind that the criteria for the identification of taxa used in the 1960s or even the 1970s were by no means always comparable to those of today. Consequently, the value of these samples as representative of the earliest agriculture of Greece and the relative significance of the various species supporting a general argument of colonization are at least questionable. The discussion of weed taxa further highlights the significance of sampling error. Because systematic sampling with graded sieves was not applied in those early excavations, the particularly low mean number of weed taxa in Greece could well be the result of the failure to collect weeds by hand-picking rather than the sowing of cleaned
grain stocks transported from the Levantine core in fields cleared of the local wild vegetation. However, in a way this final remark brings the discussion back to the ontology of agriculture and the role of “domesticates.” As is very clearly presented in the paper, even on this interregional scale the variability of practice is remarkable: it can be observed in the degree of preference for wild cereals, variable field maintenance practices, and differences in crop-processing techniques. Other areas of variability can reasonably be assumed to exist on the basis of evidence from subsequent Neolithic phases (Halstead 1994, 1996). They include different combinations of species, regionally and culturally specific, and plants that are not part of the normal package. If these practices can vary so much, would it not be equally helpful to explore more closely the existence of diverse agricultures rather than derivation from a postulated original essence? m e h m e t o¨ z d o g˘ a n Edebiyat Fakultesi, Prehistorya Anabilim Dali, Istanbul University, 34459 Istanbul, Turkey ([email protected]
). 23 v 04 The origin and spread of a Neolithic way of life is probably one of the most discussed issues in prehistoric archaeology. Problems ranging from the essential questions of where, when, and how farming began to detailed auxiliary topics have been rigorously discussed at both the theoretical and the empirical level. For more than half a century the expansion of the Neolithic way of life has been at the center of all this discussion. The models suggested have taken extreme views, with neither side providing convincing evidence. In the first years of research there was only a diffusionist model, suggesting massive and organized migration of farmers colonizing and thus bringing “civilization” to other lands. Later there was a strong antidiffusionist trend, implying autochthonous or parallel developments and the emergence of farming in Europe independent of the Near East. Still later other models suggested acculturation, culture contact, a wave of advance, moving frontiers, etc. Theoretical biases that obscure the hard evidence have tended to hinder the development of acceptable solutions. In this respect, Colledge et al.’s paper is most welcome in focusing on a new facet of the problem. The research design is simple but reasonable; rather than confine themselves to the details of a site, a species, or a microregion, the researchers have adopted a supraregional perspective. It may be argued that this approach is apt to overlook or misinterpret certain facts because of its geographic scope, but its advantages in drawing a meaningful picture without becoming trapped in details are evident. The article includes a large number of ideas that can be considered new or at least different from the conventional ones. Among these is Perle`s’s maritime and/or coastal expansion model. An unbiased reassessment of the evidence strongly implies that there were multiple
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paths in the westward movement of the Neolithic way of life. In identifying trajectories in the expansion of this model, the coastal option must certainly be taken into account, along with multiple routes along the plateau. This idea of Childe’s was, needless to say, almost totally ignored during the era of antidiffusionism. There are, however, some points that need to be reconsidered if not revised. The aim here is to identify “vegetational signatures” on the basis of “similar patterns of taxon presence.” This would work, however, only if there was an organized movement of people from point A to point B carrying with them the original package of Neolithic components. In the present state of the evidence, it is more or less clear that the westward endemic movement of “eastern” farmers was not an organized one but more like an infiltration from all parts of the core to all parts of the new area. The original components of the Neolithic package did not move together, and, accordingly, sites in the newly settled area will reveal different random collections of elements found somewhere in the core area. This would explain what Colledge et al. point to as the “unevenness of the evidence” on origins and diffusion. A number of minor errors need to be corrected, among them the comparison of the Central Anatolian assemblages with the PPNB sites of the Levant. The planning and organization of settlements are among the most striking differences between the Levant and Central Anatolia, and naviform cores are absent in Central Anatolia except at Kaletepe, where they were produced solely for export to the Levant. Thus, despite the close interaction between the Levant and the Central Plateau, there are significant differences between them. Overall, I share most of Colledge et al.’s views and appreciate their approach, but it is evident that botanical evidence alone is not enough to produce a general picture. One of the important biases of Neolithic archaeology is its overemphasis on subsistence patterns at the expense of cultural traits. edgar peltenburg Department of Archaeology, University of Edinburgh, Old High School, Edinburgh EH1 1LT, U.K. ([email protected]
). 20 v 04 A major issue in appraisals of the initial spread of farming is the need for more sound empirical data that bridge the regions of the Near East and Europe. In assembling a radiocarbon-based, innovative and large-scale analysis of critical archaeobotanical evidence, Colledge et al. overcome significant weaknesses in current debates. Their methodology and evaluation will play a significant role in ongoing discussions about Neolithic dispersals. One relevant complexity that emerges from their analysis concerns weed taxa. They propose, on the one hand, that low mean numbers reflect transport of cleaned grain stocks to secondary locales and, on the other, that cereal domestication first emerged in the southern Levant, which has low numbers. Reliance is placed on dates from
three sites, but those from Jericho are equivalent to relevant dates from C ¸ ayo¨nu¨ in the north, and Danielle Stordeur’s recent reinvestigations of Tell Aswad (personal communication) raise serious questions about the existence of any Early PPNB there. This leaves the anomalously early dates from Iraq ed-Dubb to sustain the southern Levant primacy argument, so further evidence is clearly required. The primacy argument bears on the issue of routes and mechanics of dispersal. If there must be some lingering doubt about South Levantine primacy, then the dates of domestic seeds from Mylouthkia in Cyprus are roughly as early as the secure dates of domestic founder crops on the mainland. (I am using Colledge et al.’s dates rather than the lower OxCal v3.5 calibrated dates that provided a framework for discussion in Peltenburg 2003.) It is often presumed that this means that there must be earlier, undiscovered agricultural sites on the mainland but they probably lie outside the moderately well-known Levantine corridor, closer to the island. In other words, in situ domestication may be polycentric. Alternatively, we may need to revisit Binford’s marginal-zone hypothesis, which sees human groups artificially producing the stands of grain that characterized optimal zones where wild founder crops were abundant. In that case, we may need to think of cultivators spreading plants and animals which, by dint of close management, developed the morphological traits of domestication. Although I still believe that farmers migrated to Cyprus, these ambiguities in our empirical evidence are not addressed in this article. Focus on the archaeobotanical data to the exclusion of other, associated evidence inevitably provides a limited perspective on general developments. For example, the Levant/Cyprus–Crete/Greece route for farmers needs to take account of disparities between the regions. These disparities suggest that Cypriot migrants were unlikely to be involved, since they eschewed pottery and failed to make a success of cattle, two features that figure prominently in the earliest Cretan Neolithic. The mainland of the Levant also presents problems, since, although Colledge et al. refer to “Mediterranean coastal Syrian sites,” only Ras Shamra is cited, and it is too late to provide evidence for the proposed process. These facets suggest a more complex picture in which we still cannot rule out Anatolia as the main source for Aegean domesticates. Recent evidence from the Aegean points to a more general concern with Colledge et al.’s stance. Throughout there seems to be a premise that similar vegetational signatures may be equated with the migration of farmers, without consideration of other possibilities. Yet, Cyclops Cave on Youra Island has yielded evidence for the domestication of pig and caprid in Mesolithic times (Sampson and Katsarou n.d.). If sustained, it would be important for indigenous arguments. Together with the evidence from Cyprus, which was stocked with morphologically wild animals (Horwitz, Tchernov, and Hongo 2004), it suggests that foragers and cultivators may have proactively and strategically widened their
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subsistence base, and therefore we cannot exclude their appropriation of cereal farming. Colledge et al. have provided a remarkably detailed insight into patterns of agricultural expansion. It now remains to look more closely at individual regions and to assess indigenous appropriations and migrations as long-term historically constituted processes with successes, reversals, and mixed adaptive adjustments between farmers and hunter-gatherers—a modern distinction that may prove to have been blurred in the Eastern Mediterranean during these early times. george willcox Arche´orient, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Jale`s, Berrias, 07460 France ([email protected]
wanadoo.fr). 13 v 04 Colledge and colleagues make a significant contribution to our understanding of early agriculture. Their article presents data obtained from a new archaeobotanical database created with the intention of providing a better understanding of the emergence of agriculture in the Near East and its subsequent diffusion into Europe. One cannot but admire the quantity and the quality of the meticulous work which went into the construction of the database. Applying multivariate analyses to information obtained from the database, Colledge et al. lend support to the claim that the origins of crop domestication are to be found in the southern and central Levant core area, from which crops spread to Cyprus and then to Crete and Greece on the one hand and into southeastern and then central Anatolia on the other. The interpretation of a core area is partly based on the earliest domestication reported at two sites (Aswad and Iraq edDubb), but there are no direct AMS dates on the domesticated cereals themselves (I have recently arranged for the emmer grains from the original Aswad excavations to be AMS-dated and am awaiting the results). The plant remains from the early layers at these sites were few and of poor quality. Two other PPNA sites in the south, Zahrat Adh-Dhra 2 (Edwards et al. 2002) and Netiv Hagdug, which have excellent, welldated plant remains, show as in the north no signs of domestication. Many archaeologists in recent years have abandoned the concept of centres or core areas; at the Fourth International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Berlin, March 29–April 3, 2004, a workshop entitled “Towards New Frameworks: Supra-Regional Concepts in Near Eastern Neolithization,” attended by a number of distinguished scholars, produced a consensus in favour of a polycentric approach. I have argued that across the entire region local cereals occurring near the sites were taken into cultivation during the PPNA and early PPNB, leading to independent domestication events (Willcox 2002:136, table 1). This is demonstrated by the fact that the archaeobotanical cereal assemblages correspond to the differences in the natural distributions of the wild ce-
reals; for example, single-grained einkorn is found as a dominant cereal only in the north, while emmer dominates together with barley in the south. DNA data and a much more detailed analysis of the distribution of wild cereals (the traditional maps are misleading) support this hypothesis (Ishii, Mori, and Ogihara 2001:902, fig. 3). Concerning the introduction of agriculture into Cyprus, both emmer (southern Levant) and singlegrained einkorn (northern Levant) are found on early PPNB Cypriot sites. Given the time scales involved and the complexity of the region, the hypothesis of migration from a single core area is less plausible than a model which involves multiple contacts from different areas at different times. The generally poor preservation of archaeobotanical material on Cypriot sites and the fact that the evidence comes primarily from wells may have contributed to the small number of weed taxa (table 5) compared with sites on the dry continental steppe, where the preservation is often excellent. Colledge et al. suggest, and I agree, that the stable climatic conditions following the Younger Dryas provided a favourable situation for the first farming communities. But for the length of the gestation period for domestication, they suggest that the data agree with the model proposed by Hillman and Davies (1992), in which plants, once taken into cultivation, were rapidly domesticated. While this may be true in one area, one should not assume that it was the case for the region as whole (for further arguments for slow domestication rates see Willcox 1999:487 and 2004:149). Archaeobotanical data vary tremendously according to preservation conditions, sampling methods, and archaeological context. Despite this, the “vegetational signatures” described by Colledge et al. for the earliest periods are real and result from the fact that the sites are located in very different vegetation zones with different cereal assemblages. With regard to the data, we are presented only with the correspondence analysis plots and denied the raw data. It would also be interesting to define the geographical locations of the sites using natural ecological boundaries or even the new cultural areas now emerging as opposed to the modern political frontiers used here, where, for example, Jordan and Israel occupy the same as well as different vegetation zones while northern Syria and southeast Anatolia are part of the same natural and cultural region. Colledge et al. should be congratulated for their contribution to our knowledge of the origins and spread of crop plants. However, a central question arises from their work concerning the relationship of the spread of crops to cultural diffusion on the one hand and to population movement on the other. Future work combining archaeobotanical information from the database with other archaeological data will further our knowledge about this fascinating period in human history.
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Reply s u e c o l l e d g e , j a m e s c o n o l l y, a n d stephen shennan London, U.K. 8 vi 04 We thank all the reviewers for their insightful comments. We are encouraged that, on the whole, they too see value in a pan-regional approach to archaeobotanical data, and we look forward to the second phase of our comparative research on southeastern and central Europe. We trust that the following response addresses their concerns with the current paper. At a general level, Kotsakis usefully highlights the differences between the study of domestication from a botanical and zoological perspective (i.e., its “essence”) and domestication as a historical and social construct (i.e., its “existence”). We have concentrated here on the spatial-temporal dynamics of the former as a route to understanding the latter. By noting regional similarities in the composition of archaeobotanical remains, especially between the earliest Greek Neolithic sites and those from Cyprus and the Levant, and by cautiously rejecting environmental and taphonomic processes as the cause, we have in fact highlighted how blanket “wave-of-advance” models fail to explain how agriculture arrived in ¨ zdog˘an takes issue with our use Europe. In this regard, O of the heuristic device of “vegetational signatures” to describe the regionally coherent patterning of sites on the basis of their archaeobotanical remains. Although it is true that the full suite of founder crops did not necessarily move as a “package,” we suggest that the reasons that regionally distinctive clusters of sites exist is in part shared ancestry. We are certainly not rejecting central Anatolia’s contribution to early Neolithic Greece (and, by extension, southeastern Europe), only pointing out that this should not be the default point of origin of Europe’s first farmers as is often assumed (e.g., van Andel and Runnels 1995). If anything, given that we show that early agriculture in the eastern Mediterranean is region¨ zdog˘an, Kotsakis, and Peltenburg should ally variable, O be reassured that what we are postulating is not the spread of an agricultural “essence” from a single point of origin but the diffusion and evolution of variable but historically contingent practices. We wholeheartedly agree with Kotsakis that domestication and domesticates are a “medium of human agency” and that the documented variability in the use of certain species and agricultural practices requires further investigation. Harris’s comments on the changing ecological niches exploited by early farmers that may give rise to the patterns are also useful in this context and merit further investigation. More pragmatically, Hansen and Kotsakis note the differences in the methods of recovery and processing of the samples and the possible correlation with taxon variability. We have made reference to this in our text, but we will elaborate. Recovery of charred plant remains was
by flotation for 56 of the 60 phases in our study. For 30 of these bucket flotation was used, and a flotation machine was employed for a further 17. For 9 of the phases there was no record of the method of flotation. We could find no record of what recovery method had been used for only two sites (Gediki and Knossos), and for an equally small number the plant material was retrieved using dry sieving (Jericho and Nahal Hemar). However, these latter sites do not form outliers from those that were subject to more rigorous recovery and in fact maintain their regional groupings. As far as we are able to discern, therefore, the inclusion of a minority of sites with poor recovery methods has not influenced the general patterns we have identified. It is worth noting that at several sites there are archaeobotanical reports by more than one researcher (e.g., Beidha [Helbaek 1966, Colledge 2001], Tell Mureybit [van Zeist and Bakker-Heeres 1984, Willcox and Fornite 1999], Argissa Magoula [Hopf 1962; Kroll 1981, 1983], Sesklo [Renfrew 1966; Kroll 1981, 1983], and others). In these cases the different researchers have often used different methods of recovery. For example, at Beidha, Helbaek examined impressions in burnt plaster/daub, and during later excavations at the site flotation of some of the ashy layers and hearths revealed additional taxa not previously identified. Similarly, at Argissa Magoula Hopf (1962) listed taxa found in baked daub/clay, and ca. ten years later Kroll (1981, 1983) revisited the site and took samples for flotation from the early layers. Our records represent amalgamations of the data from all sets of researchers. We also acknowledge that differences in mesh sizes used to retrieve the plant remains will influence the overall composition of the archaeobotanical samples. As far as we can establish, for 31 of the 60 phases there are no records of sieve sizes, and on those for which records exist 22 used sieves with meshes ! 1 mm. Of relevance to our plot is the fact that a majority of these 22 phases are located in the quadrant with the lowest mean number of weed taxa (i.e., equivalent to sites in the southern Levant, Cyprus, Crete, and Greece). Four of the 7 phases with mesh sizes ≥1 mm are also in this quadrant; the other 3 are to the left of the plot (upper and lower left quadrants), correlating with sites that had the highest mean number of weed taxa. It does not seem to be the case that recovery methods were responsible for the low number of weed taxa in the islands and Greece, as there appears to be little correlation between number of weed taxa recovered and the size of mesh used. Hansen, Kotsakis, and Willcox also suggest that the different contexts sampled and/or lack of contextual information about samples at the sites may undermine the case we have made for patterning on the basis of taxonomic composition. We have not overlooked this possibility, pointing out that the range of context types sampled may well determine the degree to which the suite of crops and wild taxa is representative of the full complement originally present at the sites. For 17 of the 60 phases used in our analysis there is no information on context, and a further 12 phases rely on samples taken
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from sections and/or balks and three from unspecific “ashy layers.” This leaves a total of 28 phases for which adequate data are available and/or well-defined contexts were sampled. Only in these cases would it have been possible to make some assessment of variation of taxa between the different context types. However, our method of recording was not at the level of individual samples, and we have used presence/absence rather than absolute numbers in our analyses. This has enabled us to sidestep instances in which, for example, we would have had to compare the contents of burnt storage containers with general occupation deposits, which would have increased the chances of skewing the data. Instead we have combined the taxonomic data from the sites (e.g., total numbers of taxa and ubiquity scores) according to major cultural phases. The use of presence/absence data precludes the likelihood that any patterning is the result of contextually determined aberrantly high or low proportions of taxa. It has also allowed us to include 8 phases for which records of numbers of taxa were not given, only references to identifications (with or without ubiquity). Bouby rightly points out that this method has necessarily involved a reduction of information that otherwise might have enabled us to determine, for example, the relative significance of crops at the different sites. We are fully aware that this is the case. As a consequence, however, we have avoided the pitfalls of making the unjustified assumption that numerical values somehow reflect importance (Jones 1991:63). The very fact that we have relied on presence/absence data alone has enabled us to make comparisons unimpeded by quantitative differences derived from any context-related variations (in turn a consequence of, for example, processing activities) in numbers of taxa. We agree that an approach based on relative/semi-quantitative assessment of the data may permit a more in-depth study of the development of plant-based subsistence/agriculture, and in subsequent work we have already used ubiquity scores to explore differences in crop and weed taxa between sites. We agree with Bouby that wild or weed species are likely to be transported onto sites for many different reasons, including although not exclusively as contaminants of crop harvests. We did not refer explicitly to crop processing as a cause of the possible “filtering out” of wild or weed taxa but agree that this is undoubtedly responsible in part for the presence or absence of certain taxa from the sites in our plots. We have emphasized that a more in-depth examination would be necessary to establish the possible influence of taphonomy on the composition of samples from the different sites and thus on the overall data set. Willcox questions the suitability of some of our data because of the poor quality of the plant material; he mentions this in reference to the evidence from Levantine PPNA sites and from Cypriot early PPN contexts. We are aware of the problems with these samples and others and acknowledge the limitations of our method of analysis as a result of not being able to make allowances for variables such as preservation. However, records of the relative state of preservation of taxa (e.g., distortion, frag-
mentation, etc.) are patchy, and when they occur the descriptions are mostly subjective, making comparison between sites on this basis impossible. In the same way, therefore, that we have not made judgements about the accuracy of identifications of taxa (i.e., based on the skill levels of the researchers who made the identifications), we have not felt able, in the absence of adequate information about their overall condition, to include or exclude certain taxa/samples from our analyses (the exceptions being cases in which the researchers comment that plant items are definite contaminants). Willcox quotes the Cypriot sites at which wells were sampled and suggests that poor preservation/context type may be the reason few weed taxa were recovered. The Cypriot sites, including those where hearths, occupation deposits, floors, and burials were sampled, are all located in the top right quadrant of our plot. If the sites where samples were taken from wells (phases KMIA, KMIB, PSIII) had formed discrete clusters or outliers in the plot (and distinct from the other Cypriot sites), there would perhaps have been some foundation for suspecting that extraordinary circumstances were responsible for the taxonomic differences. Hansen and Peltenburg raise issues of phasing and chronology. We recognize that Near Eastern chronologies are complex, and therefore we have made every effort to consult as many sources as possible to establish the correct dating sequences for the phases. This has included reference to publications that cite potential errors in radiocarbon dates, whether resulting from the dating techniques or from incorrectly reported stratigraphic association between dated samples and archaeological levels. Hansen says, “I cannot accept that material that is in an otherwise clearly PPNA context should be assigned to the EPPNB because the dates are later than PPNA dates at Aswad and Iraq ed-Dubb,” but we have not suggested that the PPNA cultural affinity is incorrect at Jericho. We have merely said that it is chronologically equivalent to the EPPNB elsewhere in the Levant. The presence of domestic cereals at Jericho in PPNA contexts does not mean that they are equivalent in date to the PPNA cereals at Aswad and Iraq ed-Dubb. Stordeur’s reinvestigations at Tell Aswad, referred to by Peltenburg, are as yet unpublished, and we therefore have not been able to incorporate these data into our analysis. We understand that the PPNA contexts are under review at Aswad, but until this information is published we have used the established evidence (van Zeist and BakkerHeeres 1982) that shows cereal domesticates in midtenth-millennium-bp contexts. Finally, Bellwood invites us to comment on why we have here favoured a model of population movement to account for the initial spread of agriculture. Although our work is part of a wider trend toward revisiting the role of population dynamics in the spread of agriculture (e.g., Bellwood 2004, Bellwood and Renfrew 2003, Bentley et al. 2002, Shennan 2002), we rely on population movement as a primary factor in the initial spread of agriculture only because the evidence strongly favours demic diffusion for this phase of the early Neolithization. We are, of course,
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not the only group promoting demic diffusion for the spread of agriculture in southeastern Europe; in her comprehensive review of the origins of the Greek Neolithic Perle`s (2001), for example, refers to demic diffusion as the “inescapable hypothesis.” We also see population movement and displacement of hunter-gatherers as the primary mechanism underlying the initial spread of agriculture into central Europe, with cultural diffusion occurring only in parts of the west-central, southwest, and northwest of the continent (Bentley et al. 2002, Zvelebil 2000). What is interesting about this is that, as Bellwood shows (2004), the rapid dispersal of early farmers in the eastern Mediterranean and southeastern Europe has many cross-cultural parallels. The wider recognition of this may stimulate further research into the underlying socio-demographic dynamics of early agricultural societies and the development of models to explicate their expansionist tendencies.
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