March 11, 2015

Everything you wanted to know about Balcan and Carpathian Neolithic

Prolific researcher Esther Bamfy recently uploaded to her page this most interesting publication, which, even if it is not "recent", has a load of information on the Neolithic of the Balcans, which is crucial to understand that of Europe in general.

Various authors. A SHORT WALK THROUGH THE BALKANS:THE FIRST FARMERS OF THE CARPATHIAN BASIN AND ADJACENT REGIONS. Proceedings of the Conference held at the Institute of Archaeology UCL on June 20th - 22nd, 2005. Freely available at → LINK.

The collection is pretty much exhaustive but the paper that most caught my attention was the one by J.K. Koszlowski, titled "Western Anatolia, the Aegean Basin and the Balcans in the Neolithisation of Europe", which underlines that, contrary to pop culture ideas, often making headway into flawed genetic or linguistic studies, the first European Neolithic of Greece (Thessaly and Argolid) can't be related to Western Anatolia, where there was no such Neolithic yet but probably arrived, maybe via Cyprus, by sea.

This is coincident with what I wrote months ago at PPNB ancient mtDNA and its legacy.

But all 18 papers are very much worth reading anyhow, take a look. 


  1. "the first European Neolithic of Greece (Thessaly and Argolid) can't be related to Western Anatolia, where there was no such Neolithic yet but probably arrived, maybe via Cyprus, by sea"

    That's cool. I mostly just look at maps and that always seemed more likely to me.

  2. @ maju

    I post on you blog, although a little off topic like on Eurogenes

    the first reason in Normandy, why we focus on the LBK Culture
    Prof. Dastugue, I suppose you know his work.
    IMO whole thing came out.

    The link is in french

    1. Sadly enough I'm not too well-known about French prehistory written in French. I can read French with difficulty (it's a Romance and once I took a course) but I mostly do when there is not other option. Anyhow, this paper is anything but new: it's dated to 1985! Also its focus seems to be anthropometry providing very little detail about cultural contexts and radiocarbon dates. Nothing about LBK is apparent anyhow although the anthropometry is strikingly different to what we find in the Basque Country and Iberia, where meso-dolico types are universal and when, in the Bronze Age, some brachy types appear, they are considered foreign mine prospectors or workers from the North (France possibly). Said that in Iberian prehistorical anthropometry a distinction is made between "robust" and "gracile Mediterranean" types, the first ones considered pre-Neolithic and the latter Neolithic. In the Basque Country an nearby areas a third type is often mentioned: Pyrenean, allegedly pre-Neolithic and supposedly ancestral to modern Basques. Of course all these are old theories popular in the 20th century which today have limited currency but have not been contested either in any formal way that I know of.

  3. The traces of expanssion of primal Neolithic must bear in mind the conformation of Black Sea, about 7500 years ago.
    The nordpontic plane was probably the highest populated area in that age: Tempered clima, big rivers, fertil lands and close to central and east Anatolia. Someday the archeology will find the ruins of those cultures, erased by the Flood....

    1. "Probably" why? Just speculation. The area exposed was not larger than what remains above sea level and about which we know a little bit. The same people who lived in the submerged areas of the Northern Black Sea, lived in Crimea or the regions further north. They are interesting in their own way but they are neither mega-remarkable nor, very clearly, at the origin of mainline European Neolithic.

      On archaeological and archaeo-genetic grounds we know that the Mainline European Neolithic has a source in Thessaly and that such a founder population was largely of Levantine origin (not mainly Anatolian for several reasons) with also a fraction of admixture with Balcanic aborigines, who don't appear to be particularly related to Eastern European ones (low vs. high Siberian affinity).

      Those are the facts, what you say is just an unfounded rant.

    2. "The same people who lived in the submerged areas of the Northern Black Sea, lived in Crimea or the regions further north": Simply we can´t know that. Not until analize de DNA of the sumerged people. Surely most of ancient lineages we lost for ever: Extintion without evidences, cremation, mutations in small groups... The facts 10 years ago was any genetic relationship between sapiens and neardenthalensis, so, a respect for the arqueological (o genetic) silence.

      The birth of Black Sea it´s syncronic with the expanssion of Linear Pottery Culture (genetically connected with Anatolia: It´s the opposite coast), so "probably" that expanssion starts in that moment

      Yes, I was speculating a bit, for that I said "probably". The DNA analysis and C-14 datation are probabilistic too... A 90% of facts and 10% of speculation it´s more scientific that 100% facts, because Science it´s dynamic. like the people that get away from the Flood.

      Congratulations for the blog.

    3. We know a lot of things only on the archaeology of the still emerged areas. Not just the Black Sea experienced major sea level rise but also the Adriatic, the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel and the North Sea. Ever heard of Doggerland? Well, we know a lot more about Doggerland people from the neighboring emerged areas than from submarine archaeology. Testing DNA from submerged remains (unless there's a lot of luck) is going to be impossible, so you are demanding the impossible, more or less. Anyhow, Crimea used to be a mountain massif in the middle of the now submerged areas you mention, so I don't understand why evidence from Crimea isn't going to satisfy you.

      "The birth of Black Sea it´s syncronic with the expanssion of Linear Pottery Culture"...

      There was a Black Sea or "Black Lake" before separating the Pontic Steppe from Anatolia, it just grew bigger and saltier. There is genetic data from neighboring Neolithic Ukraine (and does not match Balcanic or mainline European Neolithic).

      "Linear Pottery Culture (genetically connected with Anatolia...)"

      Linear Pottery culture is not an isolated culture but GENETICALLY is one with Cardium Pottery and (for all we know) with Balcanic Painted Pottery and the common precursors of all them in Neolithic Thessaly (Sesklo, Otzaki, etc.) There are no significant genetic differences between Linear Pottery and Cardium Pottery farmers. And NOPE, they don't connect to Anatolia but rather to Palestine, what suggests a coastal route via Cyprus. This last is also supported by archaeology, because there was no Neolithic in Western Anatolia (nor in the Pontic steppe either) when the Thessalian Neolithic began.

      Just saying "probably" does not make your conjecture probable at all. You have not a single piece of evidence, just letting your imagination fly wild is not enough. It's nothing but wishful thinking.

      Said that, there's a reasonable chance that pottery (but not farming nor herding) arrived to Europe and West Asia via the tundra, with the westward migration of proto-Uralic peoples from, ultimately, East Asia, where the concept was first developed (long before farming).

    4. Doggerland it´s not comparable to Black Sea. Neither clima, alternatives nor, this is the most important, growth of the sea level. If the sea grows 10 cm a year, 1000 years, that´s 100 m, but in the short lapse it´s not a growth. If the level grows several metres every month you must get away, FAR AWAY, not just at side.

      The people from Crimea may be the descendents or not: We can´t know, just use the common strategy to define that. If a entire people migrates 500 km far away simply we can´t know them path. And if just migrate 90% and the rest dissappears, the same.

      Obviusly all the neolithic cultures are genetically relationed with the Crescent, but the DNA can´t explain the feedback in lapsus minor to several centuries.

      Finally, You say Western Anatolia to deny a transit acroos to the nordpontic plane, but the shorter road from Obbaid to Azov it´s beside the shore of the old lake, at feet of Caucassus.

    5. Browse this blog for "Neolithic", there are a zillion of articles that support a rejection of your hypothesis. Or in general just learn something about the actual evidence we have regarding the European Neolithic. If something is clear is that the mainline and Eastern European Neolithic areas are very different: in Ukraine and Southern Russia there was a largely local development, maybe affected by West Asian influences via the Caucasus, instead in the Balcans (and by extension all the rest of Europe) the Neolithic arrives fully developed, seemingly from the Levant via the Mediterranean, with the only exception of pottery (not yet developed in West Asia).

    6. A rejection from the current knowledge...

      I know, I know... For that I use forms not categoric to express my opinions or tesis, like "probably", "may be", "surely"... I don´t want offends, just suggest. I think it´s funny to use the inspiration sometimes.

      But, as Los Millares became older that Mycenae from C14 datation, "maybe" the chrystalographic datations or finer DNA instruments can put the axis in Gobleki Tepe (clsoer to Black Sea) instead of Mesopotamia or Levant. and "perhaps" new human lineages as Denisovians appears on the horizon.

    7. The term you want to use is "hypothesis" or "conjecture".

      Göbleki Tepe is actually so interesting because it is pre-Neolithic. It's not like all people come from a single place anyhow, not even in the Neolithic. In general there was some sort of expansion from West Asia in that period (and from Southern China in the Far East) but each has its own characteristics. For example the people arriving to South Asia were surely from the Zagros and Iran area, and so were the people arriving to Central Asia/Volga, apparently (judging on Yamnaya genetics, which are a mix of West Asian Highlanders and Eastern European Aborigines).

      In the case of the Neolithic of Europe West of Odessa it is the genetic data which strongly suggests a Palestinian or similar source. While the archaeological data moderately supports a naval migration via Cyprus to Thessaly. Some would use the term "coastal" but if something we know about early European farmers from those roots (specifically the Cardial branch) is that they were excellent sailors, so colonization by direct sailing is perfectly possible. There they mixed with the scattered locals producing something very similar to modern Sardinians (and, after further admixture, to Basques and Iberians).


    There's several confirmed Hs in Upper Palaeolithic Spain with CR-mutations. I guess I owe you an apology, although I didn't dismiss the possibility.!!!!

    I wish they got autosomal DNA to see how the H bearing Upper Palaeolithic Spaniards are related to La Brana-1 and Loschbour. This makes it very possible some H in Europe today is Pre-Neolithic descended, but how much will be hard to discern.

  5. Thank you, Krefter. I got personal communication of that hours ago. Actually it's all material published earlier with exactly the same "control region" RFPLs checks, just that now there is one more from El Mirón cave (Cantabria) that is H-CRS (H1 probably) from 19,000 years ago (!!!), so it's clearly at least from just after the LGM (at least Gravettian, maybe Aurignacian).

    "I wish they got autosomal DNA"...

    Sure, me too. But that costs a lot of money and I doubt that the EHU-UPV has it in this age of austerianism (except for the banksters). De la Rúa and company have been rolling the same methods (mtDNA HVS-I with RFPLs) since 1999, I doubt they are going to do anything new any time soon.


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