Beyond ‘migration’ versus ‘acculturation’: new models for the spread of agriculture

John Robb and Preston Miracle

in Going Over: The Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in North-West Europe

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264140
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734489 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy 144

Beyond ‘migration’ versus ‘acculturation’: new models for the spread of agriculture

Show Summary Details


The beginning of farming should be one of the most exciting issues in European prehistory. Instead, it runs repetitively in well-worn ruts. This chapter aims to open up a theoretical can of worms, working in similar directions to some recent essays in a non-dichotomized, nonessentializing archaeology of Europe in this period. These take two distinct but related directions. One is to re-evaluate standard interpretive tropes in classic cases such as the LBK, and to argue for much more complex processes at the forager–farmer encounter. A more radical approach is represented by theorists who question the idea that one can define essentialist identities based upon economies. The chapter first discusses the basic terms of argument critically, then poses several new models, and concludes by discussing the resolvability of the question. Beyond the Socratic aim of annoying all parties to the debate equally, it hopes to open a theoretical space in which Europe between 7000 and 4000 cal bc can be freed of encumbering conceptual baggage and viewed as a real ethnographic landscape.

Keywords: Neolithic transition; archaeology; European prehistory; farming; LBK

Chapter.  6836 words. 

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at British Academy »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.