Below are the preliminary abstracts for the papers to be pre-circulated for the Wenner-Gren workshop.  Over the next few months, as the respective authors work on the draft of their papers, they are likely to revise, amplify or refine their abstracts. To view an abstract, click on the name of the author.  From that point, you may download a PDF copy of the abstract or view it directly on this page.  These abstracts are not for citation without consultation of the participant and the organizer.

[expand title="Ammerman, Albert. "]

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The paper will present an overview on the work that we have done at early coastal sites on Cyprus and consider some of the questions that we need to ask about how voyaging began in the eastern Mediterranean. It starts with a few words on how this Odyssey itself began in 2003. It then turns to the discovery in 2004 of two new early sites, Nissi Beach and Aspros, on coastal formations of aeolianite, lithified old sand dunes. A pebble-and-flake based lithic reduction technology was used at both of them, and the same is the case with the other early sites on the aeolianite that we have identified on the coastline.
When I first went out to Cyprus, little was known about coastal foraging on the island. No one had looked for prehistoric sites on the aeolianite before. The only convincing pre-Neolithic site on Cyprus was the collapsed rock shelter called Aetokremnos where Simmons had done pioneering work. Now pre-Neolithic sites were coming to light all around the island, and we would have to face the task of learning how to do aeolianite archaeology. While the formations of aeolianite provide good conditions of visibility for mapping and collecting lithic scatters on the land surface, their thin and patchy soils pose a considerable challenge for the excavator. On the positive side, the tops of the formation – with their elevated positions overlooking the surrounding landscape and seascape, their lack of vegetation to clear and their dry soils – were good places for the coastal forager to make short-term campsites. Moreover, the aeolianite has its own special attraction in the summer months: the opportunity to collect of high-quality sea salt right at the water edge. In short, the aeolianite was great for seasonal campsites but not for more permanent forms of occupation.
The paper then goes on to discuss briefly what we have learned when it comes to the following four topics: (1) the underwater work in front of Aspros, (2) the new cycle of lithic studies undertaken by Kaszanowska and Kozlowski, (3) the evidence for tsunamis on the coasts of Cyprus and their role in site formation processes at Nissi Beach and Aspros, and (4) the hypothesis that links the advent of voyaging on a regular basis in the eastern Mediterranean with the roller-coaster ride of climate change known as the Younger Dyras. The last section will turn to several questions of a broader nature – how often were voyages made, who took part in the trips across the sea, how risky were such voyages for the coastal forager and is seafaring really the right term for the kind of voyaging we are talking about – that we now need to ask in order to gain a better understanding of voyaging in the time before the Neolithic period.


[expand title="Bar-Yosef Mayer, Daniella."]

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Marine resources and especially molluscs are encountered from the Palaeolithic, as are freshwater fish. There is little evidence for shellfishing in the Levant, and fishing of marine species, began in the Early Natufian (ca. 15ka). An examination of fish and mollusc exploitation before and during the Neolithic period, as proxies for interaction between humans and the marine environment, enhances our understanding of how and why southwest Asian populations migrated to Cyprus.
A survey of the fish collected in the eastern Mediterranean during the early stages of marine fishing reveals that these were mostly shallow water, lagoon, and brackish water fish. Those include sea breams (Sparidae), mullets (Mugilidae), sea bass (Dicentrarchus), groupers (Serranidae), etc. Larger fish and fish from deeper waters such as barracuda (Sphyraena), tuna (Thunnus), and mackerel were not found in the Levant, but were found in later stages in the Aegean and Cyprus. Fishing of large pelagic fish such as tuna does not necessarily mean fishing from a boat as because they breed near shore. During the PPNB of the Levant there is no evidence for Mediterranean fishing. Rather, fish were obtained from the Nile River and the Red Sea. This suggests that fish were a desired food, and coastal marshes may have inhibited fishing activities, but the fishing village discovered at Atlit Yam, dated to the PPNC, testified to renewed fishing activity when it was possible. This may hint at yet another motivation for exploring the seas, i.e., PPNB fishermen were looking for other territories. Furthermore, the fishing of triggerfish at Atlit Yam, may have been not only for their use as food but also for use of their skins for wood polishing, possibly for construction of seagoing vessels.
The evidence for shellfishing in the Levant is scarce, and if shell middens existed, they are now submerged. But some Patella shells at the Natufian el-Wad cave and Terrace suggest their possible consumption. Better evidence for shellfishing in the Pleistocene/Holocene transition period is available at Franchthi cave and along the Italian coast, as well as Sicily and Sardinia. The preferred species are usually the gastropods Patella and Osilinus, inhabiting the upper littoral on rocky shores. The presence of these species on the early coastal sites of Cyprus, and their absence in inland sites on the island may suggest that they served as interim food after landfall and before terrestrial fauna and flora could be relied upon.
Shells which served as ornaments, discovered at Shillourokambos point to a similarity in choice of species between the Levant and Cyprus. More interesting is the difference between this selection and that of the Levant: All assemblages in Cyprus contain Charonia, the trumpet shell, and these are not present in the Mediterranean sites. This shell may have served for signaling during navigation and for alerting from invaders on land.
The familiarity of humans inhabiting coastal sites with the marine environment as a source of both food and raw materials, both motivated and enabled seafaring in that it assured the provision of food during voyages and immediately after landfall. Triggerfish and Charonia shells seem to be especially valuable resources in giving us clues for understanding these voyages.


[expand title="Briois, François and Guilaine, Jean-Denis. "]

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 The researches led for twenty years in Cyprus considerably renewed the question of the first stages of the island populating and allowed to establish a new framework of reflection from the data of excavations. The survey led between 1988 and 1991 on the current area of Amathonte, by the French School mission of Athens, allowed to highlight numerous new neolithic sites, among which Shillourokambos and Klimonas were the most remarkable. The high density of sites was largely connected to the excellent flint resources, which played a major role in the use of raw materials from the first stages of human occupation of this region. The favorable environmental conditions near the littoral zone were doubtless also an important factor for the human presence

The numerous lithic series are well dated, and are coming from a good stratigraphical context. They contributed highly to the knowledge of a large period including the beginning of the 9th millennium till the end of the 8th millennium cal B.C. If a part of the productions corresponds to adaptive behaviour connected doubtless to the local contingencies but also to the functional needs of the human groups, which successively established on the territory, the other part is more invested and has a high techno-cultural value. It is the case in particular of the blade technology, some categories of tool, and the obsidian, a raw material imported from Anatolia. In the present state of the knowledge, the earliest stages are contemporary of the first half of the 9th millennium cal. BC. Translucent local flint dominates the Klimonas lithic assemblage and some obsidian has been discovered. The abundant chipped stone industry is characterized by a production of small blades in unidirectional mode with sometimes a use from an opposite striking platform. The main part of the cores was pyramidal or conical. A second type of production was a bidirectional mode of exploitation of cores, but these occurrences are rare. No indication of PPNB bipolar technology is attested in these series. The tool kit is characterized by a high number of burins and scarpers and by small arrowheads with short tang. Klimonas shows significant features of the Mureybétien, such as they were identified in Cyprus at Asprokremnos.

The earliest stages of occupation of Shillourokambos are contemporary of the middle of the 9th millennium BC. The principle of laminar debitage keeps a part of the previous technological tradition, but new standards are dominant, resulting from direct influences of the PPNB sphere: bipolar blade technology, big arrowheads industry and anatolian obsidian bladelets produced by pressure.



[expand title="Efstratiou, Nikos."]

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The pre-neolithic campsite of ‘Ouriakos’ is situated at the southeast coast of Lemnos, an island in northern Aegean.  It came to light inadvertently in the summer of 2006.   Bulldozing done in order to create a parking area for those going to the adjacent beach, exposed the occupation layers of the early site over an area of some size (one exceeds 1,500 square meters.  The first official visit was made to the site in 2007, and this, in turn, led to the systematic collection of material on the site’s rich surface (some of the grid 1 x 1 meter squares have yielded as many as one hundred pieces of chipped stone as well as fragments of shell) and to the excavations that followed in the years from 2008 through 2011.

The remarkable number of lithics recovered at Ouriakos – already well over 15, 000 pieces - come from good local sources of raw material as well as the exploitation of pebbles collected from nearby beaches. The most characteristic tools at the site are lunates and end-scrapers, which are attributed on typological ground to the time at the end of the Pleistocene called the final Epigravettian .  The first radiocarbon dates will be run soon, and it is expected that the dates will fall in and around the 11th millennium cal BC in line with the typological attribution.   In short, the dominant presence of ‘lunate’ microlithic assemblage should go back to what is called the Younger Dryas in terms of the earth’s climate history.  At this early stage of the investigation, it is not to be ruled out that there may well be some lithic material at the site dating to a slightly younger age (that is, the earliest phase of the Mesolithic in the Aegean). As the excavation and the study of the lithic assemblages are currently in progress all these issues are open further definition and refinement.

The contribution of the material recovered at the Ouriakos campsite to the larger picture of the northern Aegean basin at the time of the Pleistocene/Holocene boundary is important.    It points to a good coastal location, defined by a stream passing on one side of the site, which gives its name to the locality, which was repeatedly visited by groups of hunters and foragers over a span of time that may have lasted for a millennium  (12.000 and 10.000 cal BC).

There are many interesting questions to be asked:  were those who camped at the site mainly interested in hunting or did they practice land and sea foraging as well?  Had they reached what is called Lemnos today by walking over stretches of dry land from Anatolia (at a time of lower sea-level) before it became an island?   Or they were crossing in some places narrow sealanes at a time the area was already gradually becoming an island due to the progressive rise in sea level?  Will it be possible for the archaeologist to record the fascinating and complex processes of environmental, cultural and social change archaeologically in either direct or indirect ways?  And is it possible that, by the end of the Palaeolithic in this part of the Mediterranean basin, two different ways of life may be present at more or less the same time:  one looking back with an eye to hunting and the other looking forward with an eye toward coastal foraging?


[expand title="Erdoğu, Burçin and Özbek, Onur."]

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This paper examines the latest data obtained from field surveys and excavations in the Turkish part of the North Aegean. The recent archaeological finds namely from Gökçeada (Imbroz) Island and Gelibolu Peninsula at the southern tip of the Turkish Thrace region indicates that the picture about the human population movements may be somewhat different then what we have known until now. Discovered in 2011, for instance Üçdutlar Paleolithic site in the Gelibolu Peninsula shows strong evidence on the human occupation between Upper Paleolithic and Epi-Paleolithic/Mesolithic. Other Lithic sites on the island of Gökçeada like Eskino, display the traces of human groups Middle Paleolithic to Epi-Paleolithic/Mesolithic. Sites like Üçdutlar and Eskino overlooking each other at about 30 km distance indicates some cultural relations even if there is a sea barrier today.

During the Last Glacial Maximum the island of Gökçeada together with the islands of Samothrace, Limnos, Ayos Evstratious and Bozcaada were connected by the mainland. The rapid rise in the sea level observed during the Early Holocene, and most of these islands were either connected to the mainland or were substantially closer to it. Ongoing excavations in Uğurlu on the island of Gökçeada show that the early farming communities were settled the region around 6500 cal. BC. Any testing of ideas related to the importance of island archaeology and Neolithic transition in Southeast Europe will have to take into account the culture found on the island of Gökçeada.

[expand title=" Kaszanowska, Malgotszata and Kozlowski, Janusz. "]

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Contacts across the sea lining the mainland with the Aegean islands as early as in the Middle Palaeolithic are suggested by finds from the Northern Sporades (Alonessos) and recent discoveries on the island of Agios Efstartios in the northern Aegean. In all likelihood, some of the islands of the Cyclades were also frequented in Upper Palaeolithic times (e.g. site KT-21 on Kythnos and the site of Stelida on Naxos).

At the beginning of the Holocene, more frequent, early Mesolithic voyaging to the Aegean islands is now fairly well documented. This involved two different cultural traditions: (1) the Balkan Epigravettian, which dominates in the eastern continental Greece and (2) the Antalyan, the culture unit typical of the Epigravettian tradition of western Anatolia.

The tradition represented in the Mesolithic layers of the Klissoura Cave and in the Franchthi Cave evolved on the substratum of the local Epigravettian. It displays some stylistic influences from the western Mediterranean: initially Sauvetrroidal features and in the later phase possibly Castelnoidal traits.

The presence of the Mesolithic on the Aegean islands – first of all the Cyclades (Kythnos and Naxos), the Northern Sporades (the Cyclops Cave on the island of Gioura), and the islands of the southeastern part of the Aegean (Ikaria and Chalki) – was the consequence of several migrations from the continent and the navigation between the islands beginning from around the first half of 9th millennium  cal BC (Maroulas on Kythnos and Kerame on Ikaria). The evolution of the Mesolithic on the Aegean islands lasted until the beginning of the 7th millennium cal BC, as indicated by the radiocarbon dates for the younger Mesolithic layers at the Cyclops Cave.

Lithic industries of the Aegean Mesolithic display techno-morphological links with the Greek continental Mesolithic, such as the domination of flake technology and the presence of backed tools most importantly: arched backed flakes or irregular blades. The large quantity of end-scrapers, mainly on flakes, also retouched flakes and notched-denticulated implements is similar to their number at continental sites (among others at Franchthi, layer VII – the X to IX millennium cal BC transition).

The increase in the number of flake tools is even more marked. In the Late Mesolithic levels (e.g.,the Cyclops Cave, and sites on Naxos and Chalki), some few trapezes and regular blades occur as well. The assemblages of the Aegean Mesolithic show adaptation to local raw materials (e.g. quartz), but also they express the transition from hunter-gathering economy of the continental Mesolithic to the coastal foraging of the island Mesolithic at the time.

The sites of the Aegean Mesolithic are interconnected in networks of raw material distribution, notably the procurement of obsidian from Melos and Ghiali. Melian obsidian also occurs in continental Mesolithic contexts (e.g.Franchthi).

The groups of the Aegean Mesolithic must have been able to navigate across considerable distances: for example, at the site of Nissi Beach on Cyprus (investigations by A.Ammerman) the pebble-flake lithic industry shows several features common with the Aegean Mesolithic.

As a consequence of contacts with early sites on Cyprus (e.g., Nissi Beach), the way of life, economy and architecture of the Aegean Mesolithic changed (e.g., Maroulas on Kythnos), and the hypothesis of voyaging over some distance may help to explain the process of change.  In addition, the analysis of an assemblage from aceramic layer X from Knossos on Crete (dating to around 7,000 cal BC) shows a number of techno-morphological components and raw materials (the presence of Melian obsidian) in common with the Aegean Mesolithic.

On the other hand, the Epipalaeolithic and Mesolithic sites in the northern part of the Aegean Basin, notably on the island of Lemnos (e.g. Ouriakos, Fisini) exhibit close techno-morphological associations with the Early Holocene Epipalaeolithic industries of south-western Anatolia, especially with the Antalyan (e.g., the Beldibi and Belbasi Caves). In the assemblages at Ouriakos, the microblade technique (based on single- and double-platform cores) is now well documented, and microlithic segments are common. The exploited raw materials all appear to be local siliceous rocks.

Recent work on the Aegean Mesolithic reveals broad networks of contacts across the entire Eastern Mediterranean –over the arc of time the beginning of the 9th millennium cal. BC through around 7,000 cal BC (i.e., the years leading up to the appearance of the full “Neolithic package” in the Aegean and the transition to a Neolithic way of life).



[expand title="Manning, Sturt."]

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This paper will make a critical review of the absolute (radiocarbon) dating evidence presently available for Late Epipaleolithic to Cypro-PPNB human presence on Cyprus. After review of the available data, it does not rely radiocarbon dates on bone or teeth. A BaPyesian model is constructed to investigate human activity on Cyprus from the Late Epipalaeolithic to the Cypro-PPNB period. This model is used both to offer likely date ranges for human activity stages, Late Epipalaoeithic, Cypro-PPNA and Cypro-PPNB, but also to quantify the apparent interval/gaps between these stages in the currently available evidence. At present, the available Cypro-PPNA evidence firmly establishes an early 9th millennium CalBC human presence on Cyprus, but it is unclear how long an interval(s) of time is involved as all the currently available evidence could be compatible with a relatively brief episode. The linkages between the dated human activity episodes on Cyprus and wider climate history will also be explored. **For additional figure, see the PDF version of this abstract**



[expand title="Moore, Andrew M. T. "]

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During the early Holocene the climate and vegetation in the Adriatic Basin were noticeably different from the present day. Sea levels were well below their Holocene maximum and many present-day islands were still attached to the mainland. These conditions influenced not only human adaptations during the Mesolithic but also the inception of farming. Mesolithic sites were sparsely distributed throughout the Adriatic hinterlands. Any coastal sites will have been lost to rising sea levels. There seems to have been a hiatus between Mesolithic occupation of the region and the appearance of farming. The impetus for the spread of farming to the central Mediterranean had much to do with demographic imperatives internal to the system but also coincided with the climatic fluctuations associated with the 8,200 CalBP event, suggesting that environmental change was a significant factor.

Early Neolithic sites that document the arrival of farming have been found on numerous islands in the Adriatic and on the mainland from southeast Italy around to Albania and northern Greece. The first farmers were highly selective in their choice of places in which to settle. They preferred locations near the coast with ample arable land to cultivate, often valleys with rich agricultural soils and open plains suitable for cultivation. They eschewed the rugged hill country for settlement, preferring to use it for grazing.

The Early Farming in Dalmatia Project has illuminated these choices and has provided evidence for the nature of the farming economy and the impact of its arrival. Through excavation of two key sites, Pokrovnik (EN and MN) and Danilo (MN), we have learned that the agricultural economy that was established in Dalmatia at the beginning of the Neolithic was a mixed farming system that included the full range of domestic crops and animals familiar from their origins in western Asia. This new way of life would have had a profound impact on the landscape. Its arrival was sudden: it was brought in by migrating farmers from regions to the southeast who traveled along the coasts and spread rapidly through most of the Adriatic region.

[expand title="Runnels, Curtis. "]

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There can be no doubt that early man plied the eastern Mediterranean. Evidence for seafaring is provided by the Early Neolithic habitation of the islands of the eastern Mediterranean by 9 kyr. Even earlier in the Holocene, Mesolithic foragers were exploring, if not occupying, the coasts of Crete and Cyprus. Earlier still, in the Upper Palaeolithic, the circulation of obsidian in the Aegean from Melos attests to human exploration of the offshore islands. And in recent years the discovery of Middle and Lower Palaeolithic artifacts on islands such as Kephallinia, Melos, and Crete suggests that the exploration of the Mediterranean seascape began well back in the Pleistocene. There is no reason to believe that the beginning of sea crossings must be tied to a specific technological change or cognitive advance amongst early hominins. The technology required for the construction of seagoing vessels was not particularly challenging, and there is a large body of historical and ethnographic evidence for boats and rafts, some of very simple construction, capable of crossing large bodies of open water. Only simple tools were necessary to make them. While polished stone axes were no doubt an improvement, the same types of actions were possible with flaked stone tools, such as handaxes or cleavers, especially when they were used in conjunction with fire. Nor do we need to assume a cognitive advance from the Pleistocene to the Holocene: if early hominins were capable of spreading from Africa across Eurasia to the Indonesian archipelago and ultimately to Australia, Japan, and Taiwan, there is no reason to doubt their intellectual ability to overcome any difficulties presented by barriers of water. In short, neither technical nor cognitive challenges confronting human beings wishing to cross Mediterranean waters were particularly challenging. Instead of asking what kind of boats early hominins may have been able to construct, or what kinds of tools they had at their disposal, or whether they were smart enough or daring enough to attempt the crossing, the question asked here is: How did they navigate the unknown waters of the Mediterranean in the Pleistocene? Ethnohistorical data suggest that many simple navigational techniques and aids have persisted for long periods of time in the Mediterranean. A consideration of these traditional methods, when coupled with palaeoenvironmental reconstructions of the wind and current patterns in the Pleistocene Mediterranean, could be used to predict the likely preferred pathways for early hominin seafarers.


[expand title="Sampson, Adamantios. "]

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The re-establishment of the environment during the early Holocen is one of the most principal aims of the research, in order to interpret the behavioural patterns of the prehistoric people who crossed the Aegean during the final Paleolithic and Mesolithic period. The multitude of questions which arise from the archaeological record would find much simpler answers if one had to hand the area’s environmental situation as it was 11,000 years ago. It is very likely the microenvironments that were created at the beginning of the Holocen very probably took dramatic dimensions much more serious than these in central and western Europe. The hunters and foragers that lived in regions of the Aegean had to face the all contrarieties of new environment, deprived of the usual alimentary sources that probably existed still in the mainland.

The Aegean Mesolithic may also be viewed as a period with sharp regional differentiation and economic complexity as well as a period of experimentation, regarding food procurence. Elements of proto- neolithization, appearing in the Aegean during the Mesolithic, may indicate, on the one hand, the possible local existence of domestication cases, resulting of economic social habitats and land use particularities as well as the existence of a focus of neolithization, comparable to the Cypriote one. On the other hand, they presume the possibility of direct or indirect contacts between local populations and Eastern groups as well as sea routes or ideas on their diffusion during Pre Pottery Neolithic.

The similarities of the Mesolithic tools from the Cyclops Cave with them of the southeast Anatolia (the area of Antalya) and the common stone industry of Ikaria and Kythnos, as well as the transportation of the obsidian from Melos and Yali to different parts of the Aegean lead to the assumption that sea routes existed at least since the 9th mill. BC.. Smaller sea routes could existed among the islands of the central and southern Aegean serving for the distribution of Melos and Yali obsidian to the Mesolithic centers. A new Mesolithic site in Naxos is lying in the course of the voyage from Ikaria to Melos. Another one was responsible for the transport of Melian obsidian to the Dodecanese (Chalki island).

A sea route is supposed to be in use in the Upper Mesolithic connecting Melos to Crete. Obsidian artifacts from Melos resembling the Aegean Mesolithic counterparts is present in Knossos aceramic levels from 7000 BC. Another sea route could exist connecting the southern Peloponnese to Crete via the Kythera and Antikythera islands.
Presupposition for the cultural diffusion from the East to the Aegean islands are the Pre-pottery Νeolithic sea routes in the eastern Mediterranean, especially between Anatolia, the Levantine coast and Cyprus. It is very likely that this marine communication and the contacts were not unilateral but reciprocal and became also from both directions that is to say from the east to the west and vice versa.


[expand title="Simmons, Alan. "]

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In the not too distant past, most scholars were unconvinced that humans had made their way to many of the Mediterranean islands prior to the Neolithic Period. A handful of pre-Neolithic claims from several islands were largely unsubstantiated, especially on those that were never linked to the mainlands. Even the Neolithic on many islands was relatively late, with Cyprus having the earliest evidence, the aceramic Khirokitia Culture, starting about 7,000 B.C. Although the earliest Neolithic on any of the islands, this still was relatively late by mainland standards.

This standard reading of Mediterranean island prehistory was, however, dramatically challenged some 20 years ago by the small site of Akrotiri Aetokremnos, located on the southern coast of Cyprus, which dates to ca. 10,000 cal. BC. Since that time, there are now additional sites, both in Cyprus and elsewhere that have been presented as pre-Neolithic. These include claims of extreme antiquity from Crete (in excess of 170,000 years), as well as hints of Neanderthal uses of some islands. In Cyprus, a few sites appear similar to Aetokremnos, but claims for much earlier sites remain unsubstantiated.

In this paper, the impact and significance of Aetokremnos some two decades 20 after its original excavation is summarized, incorporating additional recent studies as well. The site was, and remains, extremely controversial, not so much because of its chronology, which is supported by over 30 radiocarbon determinations, but because of its association with extinct endemic pygmy hippopotami and elephants, which we claim was contemporary with the human occupation of Aetokremnos. While there are over 30 paleontological sites on the island containing these unique fauna, they have never before been associated with humans. We argue that people played a direct role in the extinction of these unique animals, thereby contributing to the controversial global debate on the role of humans in Pleistocene extinctions. All of these issues are addressed in this presentation, placing Aetokremnos into a regional context based on past and current studies. We conclude that Aetokremnos remains, for the time being, the best dated and stratigraphically intact pre-Neolithic site on the island, and that humans indeed played a major role in the demise of the island's endemic dwarf fauna.

[expand title="Vigne. Jean-Denis "]

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During the last 30 years, the origins of seafaring in the Mediterranean have been mainly investigated through the earliest presence of humans on the islands or else the circulation of obsidian. The appearance of new animal species on an island such as Cyprus, mostly due to overseas transportation by human beings, has also been taken into consideration. However, it has been underexploited. The boat-transportation of mammal populations and their sustainable establishment in the new territory – both restricted and isolated -- entails to numerous biological constraints, which include the time and the modalities of immobilisation of the animals, the minimal number of founder individuals and the intensity of gene flows coming from the mainland. Thus, in the absence of any early prehistoric wreck or representation of a boat in the Mediterranean, the transportation of animals makes it possible to estimate (with good degree of confidence) not only the times of the earliest seafaring and the distances that were involved but also such things as the durations of the trips, the speed of the boats, their loading capacity and even some general features of their structure (for example,connected with their ability to hide small stowaways). Furthermore, confronted with the experimental data, especially the Monoxylon 2 trip, as well as knowledge about traditional Mediterranean boats of a comparatively old age, these estimations make it possible to put forward reconstructions of what the earliest Mediterranean boats probably looked like.
This paper will illustrate this approach basing on the data recently accumulated in Cyprus, on the sites of Aetokremnos, Klimonas, Shillourokambos and Mylouthkia.
We recently demonstrated that late hunters-gatherers first successfully introduced wild boar to Cyprus in the time just before 9600 cal BC. May be at the same time, but anyways before 8700 cal BC, the early hunters-cultivators also introduced domestic dogs and probably commensal mice and cats. Subsequently, around 8500 cal BC, early domestic goat and cattle made their appearance in the early phases of Shillourokambos. New introductions continued to occur in the years around 8000 cal BC -- with the transportation of domestic sheep, the Persian fallow deer, red fox and perhaps pig in a now domesticated form. Then, while the introduction of new species temporarily stopped, there is evidence to suggest that new lineages of sheep, cattle and possibly pigs (again) were introduced from the mainland during the 8th millennium cal BC. The absence of morphological divergence of the Cypriot grey mouse during this period indicates intensive maritime exchange as well.
These observations indicate that seafaring was already frequent between the mainland and Cyprus at the beginning of the 10th millennium cal BC. In addition, the inference can be made on the basis of biological data that, about the middle of the 9th millennium, the frequency of the sea crossing between the continent and Cyprus took place at least twice each year and probably more often than that. In terms of their construction, the boats were probably included decks. By that time, the navigation techniques had become advanced enough to successfully transport early domestic goat and cattle over a distance of 70 km, which means that the trips probably lasted for only a couple of hours. This could only be achieved by sailing.

Thomas Cucchi, Antoine Zazzo, Isabelle Carrere, François Briois et Jean-Guilaine


[expand title="Zilhao, Joao. "]

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A number of models have been offered to explain the spread of farming economies into southern and western Iberia. Based on the highly controversial evidence for the presence of pottery and/or domesticates in the upper Ebro valley around 6000 cal BC or before, indigenist/adoptionist views argue for such innovations to emerge or have been acquired by local Mesolithic people in the context of trans-Pyrenean land networks of contact, exchange and diffusion uniting Iberia to France and beyond. The mechanism supported by migrationist views is instead one whereby Mediterranean sea routes play a key role in the encroachment of groups of farmers that create from scratch new village settlements in Mesolithic territory. One such model, Maritime Pioneer Colonization, sees the process as one of leap-frog dispersal into the empty areas found between the nodes of Mesolithic occupation known along the northern shores of the western Mediterranean. Alternatively, it has been hypothesized that farming economies of southern and western Iberia originate in South-North crossings of the Straits of Gibraltar, which presupposes an earlier emergence of the Neolithic in the Maghreb, where it would have arrived from Sicily. However, such a North African route of cultural diffusion is not supported by the archaeological evidence. Firstly, because, in the Maghreb, the earliest directly dated domesticates post-date by several centuries similar evidence from Valencia, Andalucía and Portugal. Secondly, because obsidian from Pantelleria, located about half-way between Tunisia and Sicily, is not found in the nearest mainlands until ~5000 cal BC, indicating that the beginnings of routine prehistoric navigation between Europe and Africa in the central Mediterranean post-date by several centuries the earliest Neolithic of Iberia. Thirdly, because the distribution pattern of the obsidian sourced to Sardinia, Palmarola and Lipari found in Italian, French and Catalonian Neolithic sites suggests circulation by cabotage, over coastal waters and with mainland-island or island-island crossings involving short distances only. The latter is consistent with the lack of any settlement of the Balearic Islands prior to the Copper Age and further suggests that the obsidian from the Tyrrhenian islands moved around by down-the-line exchange and/or the movement of persons transporting individual tool-kits. Overall, the evidence thus argues against the existence in the western Mediterranean of large-scale processes of colonization such as those documented in the Aegean and the Levant, which involved targeted landfalls in previously reconnoitered territories located across significant open sea expanses. The difference may relate to the social fabric of the Early Neolithic farming societies involved: dense, tightly-knit, probably hierarchical, in the East, but perhaps scattered, family-based, easy-fissioning and non-hierarchical in the West. This hypothesis accords well with the pioneer colonization model inferred from the leap-frog pattern of dispersal suggested by the location of the earliest Neolithic settlements currently known along the Mediterranean and southern Atlantic coast of Iberia.


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