Friday, September 25, 2015

End Blown Flutes of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands

Cane End Blown Flute,
Nicobar Islands, 1800

Palm leaf tied with string near hole at upper end.; 35.6 cm.

Provenance: Harold Reeves, London, 3 Nov. 1922. Formerly in the collections of Mr. T. W. Taphouse, Oxford, and Dr. Thomas Lea Southgate, London.


". . . the Nicobarese have flutes and a kind of guitar made of bamboo.  On my subsequent visit to the Great Nicobar, I obtained an example of what would be more correctly described as a flageolet than a flute, since it was hollow bamboo, blown through at the end, with a reed tied over the first hole."

from Jungle Life in India: Or, The Journeys and Journals of an Indian Geologist by Valentine Ball, 1880 (Link), page 204.

Great Nicobar Island

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Native American Bone, Block and Edge Blown Flutes - Marlon Magdalena

Marlon Magdelena speaking at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Marlon Magdalena


"My name is Marlon Magdalena, aka Ælu'æki or aluaki (translates to "Young Elk"-- Æ and æ are the same sound as the "a" in "hat" and "bat"). It is my Jemez Pueblo name. I am an accepted tribally-enrolled member of Jemez Pueblo, a federally-recognized tribe in New Mexico. I come from the Magdalena Family and the Sando Family, as well as the Panana's and the Vigil's/Mora's. My life is centered around my family and community of Jemez, where I have lived most of my life. I proudly participate in all aspects of Jemez Life; for instance, I speak the Jemez Language, I plant Jemez corn, sing Jemez songs, and dance Jemez Dances. I am proud that I am from a place that still continues our ancient ways of life."

"I currently make and sell 3 kinds of woodwind instruments found in North America; Rim-blown Flutes, Two-Chambered Block Flutes and small bone flutes and whistles. I also make small paintings (mostly of various animals) and traditional crafts (i.e., leather pouches). I give flute performances and flute-making demonstrations as well."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chinese Xiao (Flute) - Wild Geese Alighting on Sand 平沙落雁 - Zhang Weiliang 张维良

Zhang Weiliang 张维良


Zhang Weiliang is an educator; composer; professor of the China Conservatory of Music; doctoral supervisor; vice chairman of the Beijing Musician Association; President of China Bamboo Flute Society; and Deputy Director of Academic Board of China Conservatory of Music.

"Zhang was a former executive member of the Chinese Musicians Association; Deputy Director of Folk Music Committee and Director of Chinese Music Department in Chinese Conservatory of Music. He was awarded Beijing “Great Teacher” title in 2011; In 2010, he was awarded Beijing Model Worker title and the Ministry of National Education prize for excellence."

"In 2010, Zhang won the instrumental music works competition from the Culture Department for “Weeping Flower”. In 2008, he was in charge of music creation for the 29th Olympic opening ceremony."

"In 1987, 2009 and 2011 he participated in Jiangnan Sizhu competitions and won first price for each."

"Zhang has had three solo concerts at the British Royal Music Hall, cooperated and researched with France Lyon Electronic Musical Centre for electronic music production, had concerts in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Central Concert Hall in USA and concerts in Europe, Asia, America and Africa."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Romance de Viento y Quena - Micaela Chauque

Micaela Chauque


Micaela Chauque is an Argentine indigenous musician and composer. She is considered one of the best interpreters of indigenous wind instruments from the Argentine north-west.

Micaela Chauque was born in the indigenous community “kolla” in Finca Santiago, Argentina. Later she moved to Tilcara (Jujuy province, Argentina).

A musician as well as researcher of the Andean folklore, she has dedicated herself to recover and to spread musical traditions of the Argentine north-west, particularly through songs and traditional wind instruments, some of which are usually played only by men.

Micaela Chauque has performed in numerous folk festivals as well as with renowned Argentine rock bands.


A Suling is a Southeast Asian bamboo flute, especially in Brunei, Indonesia, Malasia, the Philippines and Singapore.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Asante Funeral Dirge - Atenteben - Kudjo Twum

Funeral Dirge for Atenteben
Performed by Kudjo Twum
Written by Prof. J. H. Nketia (Link)

Bulgarian/Balkan Kaval (Flute) - Kalin Kirilov

Kalin Kirilov


"Kalin Kirilov is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory. Before coming to Towson University, he taught at the University of Oregon and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Kirilov received his BA from the Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, an interdisciplinary MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon, and a PhD in Music Theory from the University of Oregon."

"Kirilov’s research explores the boundaries between two often compartmentalized fields, music theory and ethnomusicology, and his innovative analytical perspectives on Eastern European music have been well-received at national and international conferences. His recent articles appear in MUSICultures (Canada) and Analyse Musicale (France). Kirilov’s forthcoming book, “Bulgarian Harmony,” will appear in Ashgate's SOAS Musicology Series in the fall of 2014. “Bulgarian Harmony” is the first analytical study of 20th century Bulgarian harmonized repertoires tracing unique harmonic developments in Bulgarian village music, wedding music, and polyphonic choral arrangements performed by Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares."

"A master of multiple instruments, Kirilov has performed extensively in Bulgaria, Western Europe, and the United States. In 2003 and 2005, he toured the United States with Ivo Papazov, recipient of the 2005 BBC audience award in the “world music” category. In addition to being a teacher, scholar, and active performer, Kirilov is one of the main organizers of the international conferences Analytical Approaches to World Music."

虚空(高画質版) - Koku - Kazushi Matama

Kazushi Matama


"Born in Yokohama, Japan, Matama started playing Shakuhachi at the age 17. After graduating from Hosei University with a degree in History, he began studying shakuhachi seriously with Yokoyama Katsuya for over the last 30 years. In 1972-73 he successfully passed the NHK audition and graduated from the NHK Special School of Traditional Japanese Music."

"Since then Matama has participated in several international tours to Europe, South America, Asia, Australia, and the U.S. with Yokoyama and other top Japanese musical groups. He served as one of executive members of the ground-breaking "International Shakuhachi Music Festival in Bisei" in 1994 both as a planner, manager, as well as a player. In 1999 and 2000 he also helped establish the "Australian Shakuhachi Music Festival in Sydney and Brisbane". Matama is currently director of "Ramposha-Chikushin Kai" under the direction of Katsuya Yokoyama. In addition, he is a lecturer for the International Shakuhachi Research Centre and executive director of the Yokohama Chikushin Kai."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Obsidians from the Sinbuk archaeological site in Korea — Evidences for strait crossing and long-distance exchange of raw material in the Paleolithic Age

GiKil Lee, JongChan Kim


Geochemical analysis of obsidian artifacts from the Sinbuk Paleolithic site in southwestern Korea has been performed by laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS). As a result of this study, 23 samples among total 28 obsidians excavated from the site have been identified as belonging to at least four chemical groups, namely, two groups originating from the Paektusan volcano and two groups originating from sources on Kyushu, Japan. The results suggest seafaring between Korea and Japan during the Paleolithic. Other archaeological implications of these findings are discussed.


The present multi-element geochemical study applied to the Sinbuk obsidians has been fruitful to advance provenance of the Sinbuk obsidians in greater details than the previous PIXE study. Now only two obsidians among the total of 23 obsidians remain unidentified.

In this study, we have employed a new data handling method in order to cope with the uncertain absolute determination of element concentrations in LA-ICP-MS measurement. This method which is in essence ‘fingerprinting only by the shape of mass spectra’ has been successfully demonstrated to be useful for classifying samples into different source groups even in absence of high quality data of absolute magnitude of element concentrations.

As many as four different sources have been identified for the 23 Sinbuk obsidians. They include two sources from Kyushu, Japan and two sources from Paektusan on the North Korea/China border. The obsidian artifacts from Japan clearly show the direct evidence of long distance exchange network between Korea and Japan during Upper Paleolithic, regardless of whether it is due to sea-faring across narrow strait or it is due to land-bridge formation at the LGM (Park, 1992).


Monday, September 14, 2015

Conference Announcement: Prehistoric Networks in the longue duree: Palaeolithic Innovations enabling the Neolithic Revolution

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
December 9th-11th, 2015

The conference will focus on the long-term development and diffusion of Prehistoric technology in the late Pleistocene and early Holocene.  Two major fields will be tackled:

1. The relevance of hunter-gatherer-networks in the Palaelithic and Mesolithic for the adaption and diffusion of key technologies enbling the Neolithic way of life.

2. The impact the Neolithic Revolution had on long-distance networks, and whether these changed significantly or continued to exist

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lithic technological and human behavioral diversity before and during the Late Glacial: A Japanese case study

Kazuki Morisaki, Hiroyuki Sato
Quaternary International 347 (2014)


Drastic climate fluctuations occurred during the Late Glacial (LG), around 15,000-11,500 cal BP also in the Japanese Archipelago. Although some studies have claimed that regional differences in the characteristics of lithic technology and human behavior became apparent at this period, recent studies have revealed that they were already apparent as early as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).

Hence, it is important to discuss whether or not the regionality of the LGM had changed by the LG, and to understand the socioecologial processes of the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. This paper aims to review lithic technological variation in the Japanese Archipelago before and during the LG, and to investigate behavioral diversity in detail, focusing on the Kyushu region in southwestern Japan.

As the result of the analysis, there are clear differences between northern and southern Kyushu in terms of lithic technology and behavioral strategy. The differences between the two regions continued from the LGM to LG.

Low lithic tool diversity in the northern Kyushu indicates high mobility frequency of humans who carried them. In addition, a high degree of curated reduction strategy, and non-local high quality lithic raw material use also implies a high magnitude of mobility. Curated microblade technology had long helped humans to transport and utilize obsidian lithic resources in a wide foraging territory. This suposition would be supported by the scarcity of archaeological features there, as well.

By contrast, plenty of archaeological features including trap-pits and pit-dwellings in southern Kyushu implies, as many previous studies claimed, early establishment of sedentary life-way of human groups who inhabited there. High lithic tool diversity in the southern Kyushu means low mobility frequency of humans who carried them, and moreover, the low degree of standardization of flake removal technique, low degree of curated reduction strategy, and the scarcity of use of exotic lithic raw materials all strongly denote that their mobility magnitude was also considerably low. They must have adopted fine-grained resource exploitation strategies in small foraging territories. It is supposed that the above differences of behavioral strategy could be explained as different adaptations to different regional environmental settings. Future investigation would clarify more detailed regional adaptation strategy than ever.


Earliest evidence for the use of pottery

O. E Craig, H. Saul, A. Lucquin, Y. Nishida, K. Taché, L. Clarke, A. Thompson, D. T. Altoft, J. Uchiyama, M. Ajimoto, K. Gibbs, S. Isaksson, C. P. Heron, P. Jordon
18 April 2013, vol 496


Pottery was a hunter-gatherer innovation that first emerged in East Asia between 20,000 and 12,000 calibrated years before present (cal BP), towards the end of the Late Pleistocene epoch, a period of time when humans were adjusting to changing climates and new environments. Ceramic container technologies were one of a range of late glacial adaptations that were pivotal to structuring subsequent cultural trajectories in different regions of the world, but the reasons for their emergence and widespread uptake are poorly understood. The first ceramic containers must have provided prehistoric hunter-gatherers with attractive new strategies for processing and consuming foodstuffs, but virtually nothing is known of how early pots were used. Here we report the chemical analysis of food residues associated with Late Pleistocene pottery, focusing on one of the best-studied prehistoric ceramic sequences in the world, the Japanese Jomon. We demonstrate that lipids can be recovered reliably from charred surface deposits adhering to pottery dating from about 15,000 to 11,800 cal BP (the Incipient Jomon period), the oldest pottery so far investigated, and that in most cases these organic compounds are unequivocally derived from processing freshwater and marine organisms. Stable isotope data support the lipid evidence and suggest that most of the 101 charred deposits analysed, from across the major islands of Japan, were derived from high-trophic-level aquatic food. Productive aquatic ecotones were heavily exploited by late glacial foragers, perhaps providing an initial impetus for investment in ceramic container technology, and paving the way for further intensification of pottery use by hunter-gatherers in the early Holocene epoch. Now that we have shown that it is possible to analyse organic residues from some of the world’s earliest ceramic vessels, the subsequent development of this critical technology can be clarified through further widespread testing of hunter-gatherer pottery from later periods.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Swasey Phase at Cuello, Belize

     Cuello, Belize

The Earliest Lowland Maya:  Definition of the Swasey Phase
Norman Hammond, Duncan Pring, Richard Wilk, Sara Donaghey, Frank P. Saul, Elizabeth S. Wing, Arlene V. Miller, Lawrence H. Feldman
American Antiquity
Vol. 44, No. 1

The Ceramics of Cuello, Belize, A New Evaluation
Lara J. Kosakowsky, Duncan C. Pring
Ancient Mesoamerica
9 (1998), 55-66

Lithics from the Swasey Phase at Cuello
Cambridge University Corozol Project
1976 Interim Report

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pietrele – A Lakeside Settlement, 5200–4250 BC

Svend Hansen

Without metals a modern industry would not have come into being, nor would there have been any developments that would have led toits emergence. Archaeological investigations conducted since 2004 at Pietrele have made important contributions to the understanding of the Copper Age in Southeast Europe including the construction of a chronological frame-work, based upon radiocarbon datings that can be connected with stratigraphically confirmed sequences in pottery. From research on the flat settlement it has become clear that this settlement not only existed during the time of the settlement mound, but at least 500 years earlier. For the first time it appears possible that the history of the 5th millennium BC can be traced in one single settlement. In the past ten years a great deal of new research has changed the picture of this period, especially regarding chronology.

Figure 22:  Pithos

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Establishing the Identity of Bulgaria’s First Farmers – a New Perspective

Maria Gurova
Archaeologia Bulgarica
XVI, 2 (2012), 1-26

Some quotes from this paper:

Pottery complexes and diversification

In spite of the common agreement about the important role of pottery as an expression of group identity, it is confusing and difficult to evaluate how the impressive corpus of pottery research deals with this problem. From studies of pottery ‘grouping’, the impression gained is that it is rather a grouping of formal pottery features, than an allusion to the people involved, the real pottery makers expressing themselves in the stylistic variability of ceramics. Traditionally most periodizations of Neolithic culture in Bulgaria are based on regionally differentiated styles of pottery forms and decoration. There are fundamental and general works on material culture interpretation and presentation (Georgiev 1961; Тодорова / Вайсов 1993), as well as some detailed studies on intra- and inter-settlement culture with an (over)emphasis on pottery complexes (and their evolution) (Николов 1992; 1996; Leshtakov 2004; Nikolov 2002; 2004; Leshtakov et al. 2007; Lichardus-Itten et al. 2002; 2006; and others). Undoubtedly pottery could be considered and applied as a significant cultural identity marker. On the basis mainly of vessel style and variability at the very beginning of the Neolithic different local cultural groups have been distinguished:  for example, Gradešica-Circea, Galabnik, Slatina, Kremenik-Anzabegovo and Kremikovci (Nikolov 2002). They reflect broader entities denoted as cultures: the ‘monochrome Neolithic’, represented by several (some of them contested) sites; the western Bulgarian culture with painted ceramics; and the celebrated Karanovo I culture with its rich white painted pottery, well known from Thracian tells, but differentiated into several phases and variants (Slatina in the Sofia basin and three sites in the middle Mesta river plain). There are major debates about the cultural affiliation of some west Bulgarian sites to the proto-Starčevo culture, and the relation of sites belonging to the so-called ‘monochrome phase’ of the Bulgarian Early Neolithic with cultural phenomena of Carpatho-Danubian versus (north)western Anatolian cultural entity (cf. Тодорова / Вайсов 1993; Чохаджиев et al 2007; Nikolov 2002; Stefanova 1998). The Ohoden site in western Bulgaria, for example, is presented as belonging to the proto-Starčvo culture or Western Balkan cultural zone, while another part of the pre-Karanovo I culture in central-northern Bulgaria (Dzhulyunitsa and several sites along Yantra and Russenski Lom rivers) –show direct interactions with north western Anatolian sites, establishing an Eastern Balkan cultural zone. On the other hand for both Ohoden and Dzhulyunitsa a strong pottery affiliation with the Koprivets cultural group is emphasized (Ганецовски 2007; 2008; Еленски 2006; 2008; Elenski 2004).

This discrepancy in arguing for the “monochrome” occurrence (without a good series of radiocarbon dates) makes the concept ambiguous and unconvincing: consequently the attempt to search for the origin and identity of the isolated “monochrome” enclaves results in a rather vague perspective. The unifying cultural alliance/divergence among these phenomena is the fact they are altogether in the frame of the Early Neolithic Balkan-Anatolian block according the periodization of H. Todorova (Тодорова / Вайсов 1993, 74-76).

The problem of the “monochrome” horizon of north Bulgarian Early Neolithic could probably be resolved in the case of further detailed and comparative study between new promising sites Ohoden and Dzhulyunitsa, combining all the data from the sites (dating evidence, pottery and flint assemblages, particular structures, burials, “exotica” [single obsidian artifacts from both settlements], etc.).

Cultural periodization based on details of pottery typology is often inconsistent with other features of the material culture such as the more conservative flint assemblages. This imbalance between innovative (pottery) and retardive (flints) features of cultural phenomena is still insufficiently examined or taken into consideration on intra- and inter-settlement interaction levels (Gurova 2004).

Establishing cultural entities

A well known fact is that the Karanovo I culture is included in the interregional cultural complex Pre-Sesklo–Starčevo–Karanovo I–Koros–Criş, which is thought to represent the Early Neolithic processes (adopted Neolithization) in the wider area of south-eastern Europe. Respectively, the consideration of ‘identity’ goes from regional to supra-regional level. Regarding the denotation mentioned above, there is an opinion to call it “Starčevo-Criş civilization” that covers the area from Greek Macedonia to the south of Central Europe (Transylvania) and belongs to a Balkan-Anatolian Neolithic complex. According to the author (Lazarovici) in this area the general evolution and scale is almost identical; attested phenomena have the same sequence, only the dynamism is different, from area to area or from one moment to another.

(read more)


Friday, September 4, 2015

Beginnings of the Neolithic in Southeast Europe: the Early Neolithic sequence and absolute dates from Dzhulyunitsa-Smardes (Bulgaria)

    Site of Dzhulyunitsa, Bulgaria, discussed in this paper.

Raiko Krauß, Nedko Elenski, Bernhard WeningerLee ClareCanan Çakırlar and Petar Zidarov

Investigations of a balk in the centre of the prehistoric settlement of Dzhulyunitsa-Smardes comprised a sequence of archaeological deposits from the very onset of Neolithisation in South-eastern Europe throughout the end of the Early Neolithic. The arrival of Neolithic lifeways in the region coincides with the end of a period for which palaeoclimate proxies attest to considerable climate fluctuation. In connection with these investigations, the zoological finds were examined, which provide insight into the economy of this key settlement for the entire Balkan region.

A few excerpts from this paper:

Early Neolithic animal remains from Dzuljunica-Smardes
The dispersal of animal husbandry technologies from western Anatolia into Southeastern Europe is a poorly understood process. Recent studies in western and central Anatolia indicate that animal husbandry evolved in diverse forms in this intervening area between the Fertile Crescent and Southeast Europe (Çakırlar 2012). In other words, no single animal husbandry package was introduced to Southeast Europe from Southwest Asia. Instead various kinds of evolving animal husbandries would have been moving across a wide frontier until they eventually reached this region. How were animal husbandry technologies transmitted further west, across the Aegean and into the temperate regions of the Balkan Peninsula? And how were they further transformed there? Zooarchaeological assemblages from well-stratified, radiocarbon-dated deposits representing early Neolithic settlements like Dzuljunica are crucial to under-standing the integration of herding during the transition to sedentary life in Europe. We studied 900 specimens from the stratigraphic balk excavated in 2010, which covers the entire Neolithic sequence, and 1264 specimens from the horizontal exposures representing the earliest (Dz–I) Neolithic phases. The assemblages from the balk were recovered through 2mm mesh and for the most part (approx. 89%) include unidentifiable mammal remains.

The Dz–I assemblage from horizontal ex-cavations yielded a larger proportion of identifiable specimens (c. 45%). The sample size is thus small, and the study of archaeofaunal assemblages from the younger Neolithic layers of Dzhulyunitsa continues. For these reasons, here we refrain from speculating about how animal exploitation developed during thecourse of Early Neolithic occupation in Dzhulyunitsa and focus on the character of animal husbandry as it emerged in Dz–I.

The assemblage was studied in the archaeological laboratory of the New Bulgarian University in Sofia and at the Regional Historical Museum of Veliko Tarnovo. Domesticated pig and cattle (i.e. domesticated animals whose wild ancestors are known to have occurred in Bulgaria in prehistory) were identified based on their morphology, specifically by comparing them with standard wild specimens of known sex and provenance (Degerbøl, Fredskild 1970; Hon- go, Meadow 2000; Payne, Bull 1988). Osteometricmeasurements followed Angela von den Driesch (1976). NISP (= Number of Identified Specimens) is the basic quantification unit used to calculate the proportions of the represented taxa. A more detailed presentation of the material will follow in future publications.

Results and discussion
Sheep, goat, and domestic cattle are present in Dz–I. The domestic status of the sheep and goats in Dz–I is clear, because Dzhulyunitsa falls well out of the natural distribution area of their wild progenitors (Uerpmann 1987). Sheep and goat comprise approx. 50% of the vertebrate material from the horizontal exposures and approx. 65% of the material from the balk (Tab. 3). The most likely cause of this dissimilarity is the difference in the recovery techniques used in the two excavations. It is well known that sieving mitigates bias causing a low turnout of smaller animals (Payne 1972; Clason, Prummel 1977). Regardless of artificial differences in proportions, both assemblages demonstrate the important place of imported ovicaprid herds in domestic herd compositionin Dz–I. Cattle comprise approx. 30–35% of the identified mammalian specimens in Dz–I. The presence of domestic cattle in Dz–I is attested by the relatively small sizes of the Bos specimens (Fig. 30). Measurements indicate that aurochs (Bos primigenius) are also present in small amounts. This indication fits expectations based on earlier studies from Koprivec near Dzhulyunitsa (Manhart 1998) and Fikirtepe further to the southeast (Boessneck, Von den Driesch 1979).

The investigations undertaken at Dzhulyunitsa-Smardes in 2010 focused on the excavation of the balk separating trenches 18 and 21. The systematic excavation and documentation of this balk, which comprised a sequence of archaeological deposits beginning in the Early Neolithic, provided us with the unique opportunity to study developments for the eastern Balkan region from the Pre-Karanovo I phase through Karanovo II. The lowermost settlement deposits (Dz–I) can be assigned to a phase which coincided with the Neolithisation of the region, for which there are currently no older Neolithic finds. From a typological perspective, material from this level corresponds to finds made at Koprivec and from Poljanica-Platoto. Additionally, finds from Dz–I attest to clear affinities with material from West Anatolia. This context is also confirmed by radiocarbon data. While the larger figurine discovered at Dzhulyunitsa (Fig. 23) already indicates independent Balkan traditions from the outset of Neolithisation, the smaller figurine (Fig. 24) still displays typical Anatolian features.

This trend is also reflected in the results of our investigations into the faunal assemblage from the site. While the earliest Neolithic communities arrived in the region with herds of sheep and goat, and domesticated cattle, pig was either domesticated locally or imported into theregion later. Certainly, it cannot be ruled out that the Neolithisation of the Central Balkans did not occur a few generations prior to the earliest occupation deposits from Dzhulyunitsa. Data from Thessaly indicate that Neolithisation occurred slightly earlier in Greece, and the river valleys of the Vardar/Axios, Struma/Strymon and Morava would have provided natural routes for the dispersal of the new form of subsistence. Furthermore, it is not insignificant that the arrival of Neolithic lifeways in the region coincided with the end of a period for which palaeoclimate proxies attest to considerable climate fluctuation. From the middle of the 7th millennium calBC until its final century, a Rapid Climate Change (RCC) interval – with the same mechanism as the recent Little Ice Age-prevailed. RCC conditions are synonymous, for example, with harsh winters, but also with severe droughts. Additionally, in the century directly preceding the Neolithisation of the Central Balkans, these climate perturbations would have been intensified by the effects of the 8.2ka calBP Hudson Bay event. Causal relationships between climate change and the Neolithisation of Southeast Europe in the late 7th millennium calBC are an area of considerable interest which should be pursued in the future.  By the Dz–II and Dz–III phases, Neolithic communities had dispersed over the entire region, from the Aegean coast to the Carpathian Basin. The widely occurring white-on-red painted pottery (especially with white dots) testifies to a large communication sphere stretching from central West Anatolia (Ulu-cak and Çukuriçi) to Gura Baciului, at the centre of the Carpathian Basin.  From Dz–IV/Ovcarovo-Gorata (Karanovo II) there is a distinctive trend to regionalisation. In the Eastern Balkans, this trend is expressed in the near disappearance of painted decoration and the introduction of vessels with canellated/fluted surfaces. The smooth transition from this period to the subsequent Middle Neolithic, not identified at Dzhulyunitsa, heralds the period of tell development in Southeast Europe.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Early Neolithic settlement patterns and exchange networks in the Aegean

Agathe Reingruber
Documenta Praehistorica XXXVIII (2011)
(pdf Link)


The Neolithisation process is one of the major issues under debate in Aegean archaeology, since the description of the basal layers of Thessalian tell-settlements some fifty years ago. The pottery, figurines or stamps seemed to be of Anatolian origin, and were presumably brought to the region by colonists. The direct linking of the so-called ‘Neolithic Package’ with groups of people leaving Central Anatolia after the collapse of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B resulted in the colonization model of the Aegean. This view is not supported by results obtained from natural sciences such as archaeobotany, radiocarbon analyses, and neutron activation on obsidian. When theories of social networks are brought into the discussion, the picture that emerges becomes much more differentiated and complex.


During the Early Neolithic I:
● settlements appear in regions with a Mesolithic presence (Thessaly, Crete);
● huts are lightly built with thin posts and pise walls;
● burial customs are similar to those of the Mesolithic period (cremations and inhumations);
● microlithic stone tools were still in use, but produced by new techniques;
● Melian obsidian becomes more widely distributed.

During the Early Neolithic II–III and at the beginning of the Middle Neolithic not all raw materials, products, and social practices are adopted in all regions:
● no obsidian in the North until the Late Neolithic (after 5500 BC);
● no new types of cereal in Thessaly after 6200 BC;
● no stamps and only a few figurines in Southern Greece.

This regionalisation and the slow pace at which the Neolithic way of life spread into the Western Aegean (from 6500–6000 calBC) does not accord with a massive colonisation beginning in Anatolia. Instead, interrelated regional networks become visible upon which were founded the dissemination of the Neolithic way of life into the Aegean. The main actors were not colonists, but highly mobile, seafaring groups whose roots were in the Mesolithic.

The Persistence of Hunting and Gathering: Neolithic Western Temperate and Central Europe

Detlef Gronenborn

Chapter 36 in The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, edited by Vicki Cummings, Peter Jordan and Mark Zvelebil, 2014

Blog note:  this chapter in this superlative book discusses the persistence of hunting and gathering traditions in Europe, even as Neolithic traditions appear.  It discusses the Cardial and Epi-Cardial, its contemporaries and its precedents.

A common genetic origin for early farmers from Mediterranean Cardial and Central European LBK cultures

Iñigo Olalde et al.
The spread of farming out of the Balkans and into the rest of Europe followed two distinct routes: an initial expansion represented by the Impressa and Cardial traditions, which followed the Northern Mediterranean coastline; and another expansion represented by the LBK tradition, which followed the Danube River into Central Europe. While genomic data now exist from samples representing the second migration, such data have yet to be successfully generated from the initial Mediterranean migration. To address this, we generated the complete genome of a 7,400 year-old Cardial individual (CB13) from Cova Bonica in Vallirana (Barcelona), as well as partial nuclear data from five others excavated from different sites in Spain and Portugal. CB13 clusters with all previously sequenced early European farmers and modern-day Sardinians. Furthermore, our analyses suggest that both Cardial and LBK peoples derived from a common ancient population located in or around the Balkan Peninsula. The Iberian Cardial genome also carries a discernible hunter-gatherer genetic signature that likely was not acquired by admixture with local Iberian foragers. Our results indicate that retrieving ancient genomes from similarly warm Mediterranean environments such as the Near East is technically feasible.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Late Pleistocene Hominin Adaptations in Greece

Paraskevi Elefanti and Gilbert Marshall


The aim of this paper is to take a region-wide look at variation in the distribution of Palaeolithic sites in Greece as a basis for tackling broader questions about hominin perception and use of landscapes and how this changed over time.  This research is founded on the results of the Prehistoric Stones of Greece project (SOG), which set out to collate and standardize information from field surveys and excavations and to present their results for others to use.  The focus of the project was chipped stone, in particular from the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic (Elefanti et al. 2010).  The sources used include published and grey literature and we are very grateful to the large numbers of individuals and institutions who allowed us to access this primary information.  All of the data presented in this paper is based on our database, which can be accessed from the Archaeology Data Service at the University of York in the United Kingdom.

Greece is one of the most intensively surveyed locations anywhere, if not the most.  The use of field survey as a tool for locating sites and documenting landscapes took off in the late 1970s (Alcock and Cherry 2004).  The result was major growth in all types of surveys, mostly Bronze Age and Classical, but also those focusing on the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic (Elefanti et al. forthcoming).  These followed on from a small number of influential projects begun in the 1960s, along the Pineios River in Thessaly (Milojic et al. 1965), Ellis in the Western Peloponnese (Chavaillon et al. 1969), Epirus and western Macedonia (Dakaris el al 1964) and the Ionian islands (Sordinas 1969).

In this paper, we focus on sites in which Palaeolithic material has been reported, comprising 471 of the total 720 sites so far in the SOG archive.  The remaining 249 have Mesolithic and/or Neolithic and later material.  Of these 471 sites, most (441) were identified during just 37 field survey projects.  All have reported chipped stone artefacts and in a small number of cases human skeletal remains, definitely or possibly attributed to the Palaeolithic.

   Klithi (Κλειδί) Rockshelter, Vikos Gorge, Northwest Greece
   Gravettian or Epi-Gravettian Backed Bladelet Industry

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Climate change, human population growth, or both? Upper Paleolithic subsistence shifts in southern Greece

Britt M. Starkovich, Maria Ntinou


Changes in subsistence patterns during the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic at Klissoura Cave 1 in southern Greece indicate that some shifts track local climatic changes, while others do not. Specifically, increases in ungulate species diversity correlate with wetter periods, and greater abundance of certaindry-loving small game animals (e.g., great bustard) might correspond with dry periods. Other large-scale diachronic shifts, such as the increased importance of low-return hares and partridges, occur over theoccupation of the site irrespective of environmental conditions. We hypothesized previously that this relates to local human population growth over the course of the Paleolithic. New data from a nearby site, Kephalari Cave, augment this hypothesis. The site complements the Aurignacian and Gravettoid occupations at Klissoura and also contains a robust late Upper Paleolithic component. Ungulate species diversity is high at Kephalari, and there is a greater reliance on low-return small animals (including fish) than at Klissoura. In this paper, we examine changes in the faunal spectra alongside preliminary charcoal data from the two sites. These data are analyzed in the contextof regional environmental change in orderto determine the extent to which climatic change or population growth drove subsistence shifts insouthern Greece during the Late Pleistocene.

Village of Kephalari, Corinth, Southern Greece