Neolithic farming in Britain and central Europe: contrast or continuity?

Amy Bogaard and Glynis Jones

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

Neolithic farming in Britain and central Europe: contrast or continuity?

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Farming in Britain has been characterized by some authors as the transient and sporadic cultivation of food that had a limited economic importance, and more specifically as the production of special or symbolic foods consumed in ritual contexts. Farming in central Europe, by contrast, has been characterized as subsistence cultivation of staple crops. Much of the literature on Neolithic farming in Britain and central Europe, therefore, suggests a sharp contrast in the nature and purpose of cultivation. This chapter compares archaeobotanical data from Britain and central Europe to see how they differ and where (or whether) they appear to converge. In terms of the scale of cereal production and the permanence of cultivation plots, farming practices in Neolithic Britain and central Europe appear rather similar. What has sometimes been interpreted as ritual practice in one area and subsistence in the other probably represents the same activity. Interpretations of Neolithic farming appear to owe more to preconceived ideas of individual authors (whether oriented towards subsistence or ritual) than to the primary archaeobotanical evidence.

Keywords: farming; archaeobotanical data; cereal production; subsistence; ritual

Chapter.  6717 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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