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Network of the first farmers - anticipation of European Union 8000 years ago

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Neolithic farming exchanges underline Europe’s common heritage

A complex interdisciplinary approach to mapping links among Europe’s Neolithic populations and related migration patterns has clarified the strong cultural connections among the cultures of central and south-east Europe.

Society

The Linear Pottery culture of Europe during the Neolithic era was a formidable example of cross-European migration and exchange. The EU-funded NETWORKEU8000 (Network of the first farmers - Anticipation of European Union 8000 years ago) project investigated the migration of certain Neolithic populations towards better climates. It focused in particular on the Linear Pottery culture and the Starčevo culture, which featured the first farmers in central and south-east Europe. To achieve its aims the project team studied the economic and social reasons for migration. It looked at how newcomers adapted to new environments, how a culture might have changed and how two cultural groups coexisted. Using an interdisciplinary comparative-historical approach that exploits ethnographical data, the project analysed archaeological materials and used radiocarbon dating to outline cultural changes and interactions. It produced an innovative model of ‘cultural transfer’ to redefine the cultural matrix surrounding central and south-east Europe more accurately. The work involved study of Neolithic materials in Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia, as well as reconstruction of pottery and figurines. The project team also examined flint materials, in addition to conducting technological, zoological and archaeological analyses. Quantitative methods used include sequencing of radiocarbon dates for the Linear Pottery culture using Bayesian statistics and enriching the Montelius database considerably to support typology of materials. Project findings were disseminated through several workshops to students, teaching them how to use relevant software. The results were also spread through presentations, lectures and conferences on the topic. These took place in different cities in Germany, Austria and Slovenia. Several articles were also published, highlighting the links among farming communities and cultures in Neolithic Europe. The research adds a new twist on the earliest forms of coexistence and collaboration in Europe, highlighting once again our common heritage and history.

Keywords

Neolithic farming, Linear Pottery, NETWORKEU8000, Starčevo culture, cultural transfer

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