The Early Neolithic in Greece: The First Farming Communities in Europe

The Early Neolithic in Greece: The First Farming Communities in Europe

The Early Neolithic in Greece: The First Farming Communities in Europe

The Early Neolithic in Greece: The First Farming Communities in Europe

Synopsis

Farmers made a sudden and dramatic appearance in Greece around 7000 BC, bringing with them new ceramics and crafts, and establishing settled villages. Their settlements provide the link between the first agricultural Near Eastern communities and the subsequent spread of the new technologies to the Balkans and Western Europe. Drawing on evidence from a wide range of archaeological sources, including often neglected "small finds", the author introduces daring new perspectives on funerary rituals and the distribution of figurines, and constructs a complex and subtle picture of early Neolithic societies.

Excerpt

Why a book on the Early Neolithic of Greece? the simplest answer is that a book on the subject does not exist. Yet, the Early Neolithic of Greece is the oldest in Europe, probably by several centuries. It is also frequently referred to as the source of all further development in Europe, either through the 'maritime route', along the Mediterranean coasts, or through the inland, Danubian route. Such broad statements reveal how poorly the Early Neolithic of Greece (or, for that matter, the Neolithic of Greece in general) is known outside of a small circle of specialists: the relations between the Greek Early Neolithic and that of the Adriatic coast, on the one hand, and of Bulgaria on the other, are in fact very problematic. Similarly, I have found that specialists of the Near Eastern Neolithic are sometimes incredulous when they discover, through lectures, some achievements of Greek Neolithic societies. in both cases the Neolithic in Greece has been superficially and rapidly considered as a distant yet familiar parallel to better known areas, without further investigation. Providing access to currently available data concerning this period and region, showing that the Greek Neolithic possesses its own originality can, by itself, justify this book.

Other motives can be found within the 'small circle of specialists' itself. Major issues such as the origins of the Neolithic in Greece or the existence of a preceramic phase are still vividly, and sometimes violently debated. More often than not the protagonists are unable to present their arguments fully, and the dialogue resembles a 'dialogue de sourds'. I hope that a more detailed exposition of the problems, even from a one-sided position (I clearly intend to take sides in the debates), will allow a better understanding of their archaeological bases and lead to more fruitful discussions.

However, the main incentive for writing this book lies elsewhere. I am deeply convinced that the fundamental nature of Neolithic societies has escaped us because we have always, perforce, used inappropriate models of interpretation derived from later and structurally different historical contexts. the latter do not and cannot help us to understand societies that were in the unique position of 'inventing' new solutions to the new problems posed by a life based on a new productive economy. These Neolithic societies explored a whole array of different and transitory socioeconomic systems, whose very diversity cannot but be obscured by later historical processes of homogenization. a 'retour aux . . .

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