Chapter

Substitution of species, techniques and symbols at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Western Europe

Anne Tresset and Jean-Denis Vigne

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197264140.003.0010

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy 144

Substitution of species, techniques and symbols at the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Western Europe

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It is often assumed that the dissemination of the Neolithic way of life, which originated in the Near East, took a more complex turn when arriving in the western part of Europe. This may be partly due, on the one hand, to the late survival of regional Mesolithic societies that probably interacted in some places with incoming farmers, taking on the new way of life and possibly contributing to its dissemination; and on the other to the reunion of the two main neolithization streams – continental and Mediterranean – in the same area or at least in adjoining territories. The use of new techniques, including ancient DNA (aDNA) and stable isotopes, has shed some light on key aspects of those events at a large scale, such as the appearance of domesticates in Europe and the way it affected human diets. Recent complementary approaches at more local scales have helped to refine general observations on the transformations of man/animal relationships between the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, from biogeographic, zootechnical, and symbolic angles. This chapter gathers this very rich and polymorphic information in order to set it against what is already known of the neolithization of Western Europe.

Keywords: Neolithic; Mesolithic; ancient DNA; stable isotopes; neolithization

Chapter.  7829 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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