Ecological constraints on the first prehistoric farmers in Europe

Abstract : The Neolithic Revolution, which witnessed the transformation of hunter–gatherer groups into farming communities, is traditionally viewed as the event that allowed human groups to create systems of production that, in the long run, led to present-day societies. Despite the large corpus of research focused on the mechanisms and outcomes of the Neolithic transition, relatively little effort has been devoted to evaluating whether particular production-oriented adaptations could be integrated into a broad range of ecological conditions, and if specific cultural traditions differed ecologically. In order to investigate whether the differences between the adaptations and geographic distributions of three major Early Neolithic archaeological cultures are related to the exploitation of different suites of environmental conditions, we apply genetic algorithm and maximum entropy ecological niche modeling techniques to reconstruct and compare the ecological niches within which three principal Neolithic cultures (Impressed Ware, Cardial Ware, and Linearbandkeramik) spread across Europe between ca. 8000 and 7000 cal yr BP. Results show that these cultures occupied mutually exclusive suites of environmental conditions and, thus, were adapted to distinct and essentially non-overlapping ecological niches. We argue that the historical processes behind the Neolithization of Europe were influenced by environmental factors predisposing occupation of regions most suited to specific cultural adaptations.
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William E. Banks, Nicolas Antunes, Francesco d'Errico, Solange Rigaud. Ecological constraints on the first prehistoric farmers in Europe. Journal of Archaeological Science, Elsevier, 2013, 40 (6), pp.2746-2753. ⟨10.1016/j.jas.2013.02.013⟩. ⟨hal-01180654⟩



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