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Neolithic Seafaring and Maritime Technologies shaped a New World of Megalithic Societies (4700-3500 cal BC)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NEOSEA (Neolithic Seafaring and Maritime Technologies shaped a New World of Megalithic Societies (4700-3500 cal BC))

Okres sprawozdawczy: 2020-11-01 do 2022-04-30

NEOSEA is a comparative study of early megaliths and megalithic societies in Europe (4500-3500 cal BC). It seeks to analyse and explain how trans-cultural maritime exchange shaped the Megalithic Ages.
My previous results suggest, that long-distance maritime connections were far more prevalent in Neolithic Europe than previously supposed. My hypothesis is that maritime journeys and new skills in shipbuilding began in Europe ~2000 years earlier than in the Bronze Age as previously proposed. The origin of seafaring began within sea-mammal-hunting societies in Northwest France, who developed maritime technologies in order to follow whales, an economy that formed the basis for the first monumental megalithic constructions. These megalithic societies refined their maritime skills to an extent that enabled them to build seaworthy vessels and travel long distances along the coasts of Europe and over the seas. The new maritime skills mobilised seafaring elites to trade exotic raw materials such as green stone and expand their power and a new religion. Taken together the results may produce a completely new understanding of the technological, social and religious complexity of megalithic societies. If the proposed research sustains my hypothesis, NEOSEA will establish a new paradigm for the rise of seafaring and advanced maritime technologies, the maritime mobility of megalithic societies and the emergence of megalithic architecture among sea-mammal-hunting societies in Northwest France.
To test the proposed maritime mobility the project’s innovative methodology will refine megalithic radiocarbon chronologies in Europe down to historical dimensions (~20-year increments), employ ancient DNA (aDNA) and strontium/oxygen isotope analysis from a representative number of megaliths, as well as an innovative sampling of environmental DNA (eDNA) in regions without bone preservation.
Explanation of the work carried out by work package

Project set up and management
WP1 November 2020-January 2021
In this earliest work package, I focused on the set up of the project. I started the research leader education REAL-6 from the university of Gothenburg (November 2020-2021).WP2 February- April 2021
In WP2, I initiated collaborations with the archaeological departments of the University of Faro, Sassari and Nantes.. With the Globe Institute in Copenhagen, I have signed an important collaboration agreement on aDNA and eDNA sequencing. Furthermore, we hired project assistant 1 (Jonas Paulsson), postdoc one (Anna Bini) and planned for postdoc 2. We have bought a project van. WP3 May- July 2021 We established a network in Portugal and there especially with the Museo Geologico in Lisbon for collecting bones. WP4 August- October 2021 I submitted the application for the Lisbon samples. In the beginning of September, I travelled to Rennes and Nantes in France to meet with authorities and search for an excavation object in Northwest France. The process for the excavation permits in France started WP5 November 2021- January 2022 I established a collaboration with the university of Nantes and Jean Noel Guyodo who is my partner for the excavation La Planche a Puare on the Ile d´Yeu. We focused much on the excavation permit, which ended up in five dossiers of 300 pages. In January, I employed my second research assistant (Malou Blank 60%, two years) WP6 February-April 2022 In this WP, we organized the excavation, which is contemporaneous, a field course for Swedish and French students. We were buying the MS60 total station and received a workshop from Leica in using the instrument.

WP1 November 2020-January 2021 Much focus was on archival work, literature research and renewing existing networks with the megalithic research communities in Europe. WP2 February- April 2021 This WP was much focused on organizing and preparing the fieldwork in the Monchique Mountains at the Algarve in Portugal and on the bone sampling in Portugal. We developed a GIS tool for seafaring simulations together with the Centre for digital humanities at Gothenburg´s University. WP3 May- July 2021 Fieldwork in Nämforsen and Lycksele 11-18. June 2021
We conducted fieldwork in Nämforsen und Lycksele to document rock art and Stone Age boat technologies. Fieldwork in Northern Portugal 20th-27th of July. The fieldwork in Northern Portugal included 3-D documentation in the Dolmen des Antelas, Viseu and laserscanning at stelae in Vouzuela. Bone collection Museo Geologico Lisboa 27th-29th of July Together with the anthropologist Ana Maria Gama da Silva from the University of Coimbra I was screening the bone material at the Museo Geologico Lisbon. Excavation in the Monchique Mountains 29th of July-14th of August. In July and August 2021 I had the possibility to excavate with a team from the University of Faro in the Monchique megalithic necropolises at the Algarve. The museum in Lagos was still closed due to Covid and to restoration works. Subproject Sardinia. The postdoc Ana Bini was searching for bone material in the archives in Sassari, Li Muri and Cagliari. Most archives on Sardinia were not accessible due to Covid and are partly still closed. WP4 August- October Lisbon 25th -28th of September. We had the authorization for the Portuguese material and delivered it to GeoGenetics in Kopenhagen the 28th of September. WP6 February-April 2022 We were looking for more bone material, especially in France, Catalonia, Northern Italy and Sardinia. Sardinia 6th -12th of February Visit to Sardinia for archive and material research.Northwest France 15th-25th of April. Travel to Northwest France. First to Normandy and the DRAC in Caen and then to the museum of Carnac.

Dissemination and public outreach WP1-6
This period was devoted to article and book writing. I was setting up the project homepage on the University server and continued to maintain my LinkedIn and Instragram acoounts.
We organized a documentary movie with Atmosfilm/Berlin on the project. The movie team followed with to Portugal and was shooting at Gothenburg´s University. In december 2021, I was invited speaker at the Fondation ALBERT IER, PRINCE DE MONACO, centième anniversaire de l’inauguration de l’Institut de Paléontologie Humaine. Furthermore I was preparing for the theme bloc maritime histories at the World archaeology congress in Prague July 3-8 2022 and the session Mapping Stone Age Seas. Furthermore I was giving a talk for the French ambassador for research in Sweden.



Morten E. Allentoft, M. E., Sikora, M., Martínez, A.E. Irving-Pease, A.E. Fischer, A. Barrie, W., Ingason, A., Stenderup, J., Sjögren, KG, Pearson, A., Mota, B. Schulz Paulsson, B. et al….Kristansen, K, Willerslev, E. 2022 (submitted) POPULATION GENOMICS OF STONE AGE EURASIA Nature
bioRxiv preprint doi:;
The NEOSEA project is so far in the data collection phase. We are looking for human bones all over Europe for DNA, C-14, strontium and isotope analysis. Collection and approval processes are very complex and will take some time. There is very little bone material from Portuguese megalithic tombs availlable and it was possible to obtain these bones for this project.
La Planche á Puare Ile d´Yeu. The NEOSEA project is excavating this dolmen in June 2022