The revolution that brought agriculture to Europe 8,600 years ago is thought to have been driven by population expansion from Anatolia and the Aegean Basin. Neither the exact source of that ancestry trail, nor the demographics that sustained such a large population movement are known, leaving important questions unanswered, such as: how many farmers migrated into Europe? Single pulse or continuous admixture? Etc.
In this seminar, I review the recent archaeological, genetic and isotopic evidence to outline some of the issues surrounding Early Neolithic dispersals in Southeast Europe. Of particular significance is the way in which Europe’s first farmers interacted with indigenous foragers during the initial phases of agricultural spread. Far from one community replacing the other, as might have been expected, one observes intriguing patterns in which early farmers and foragers lived side-by-side, admixed and sometimes were buried together.
But how common were these interactions? Or, to put it differently, how tolerant were early farming groups to people who were not like them?