Persistent traditions: a long-term perspective on communities in the process of Neolithisation in the Lower Rhine Area (5500-2500 cal BC)

Abstract

The adoption of agriculture is one of the major developments in human history. Archaeological studies have demonstrated that the trajectories of Neolithisation in Northwest Europe were diverse. This book presents a study into the archaeology of the indigenous communities involved in the process of Neolithisation in the Lower Rhine Area (5500-2500 cal BC). It elucidates the role played by these in relation to their environmental context. This work brings together a comprehensive array of excavated archaeological sites in the Lower Rhine Area and indicates that the successive Late Mesolithic, Swifterbant culture, Hazendonk group and Vlaardingen culture societies represent a continuous long-term tradition of inhabitation of the wetlands and their margins. After demonstrating the existence of a diverse Mesolithic background to Neolithisation, the subsequent developments are studied by foregrounding the relationship between local communities and the dynamic wetland landscape. This points to long-term flexible behaviour and pragmatic choices in livelihood, food economy and mobility. For the interpretation of Neolithisation this study emphasises the persistent traditions of the communities involved. New elements are shown to be attuned to existing hunter-gatherer practices. By documenting indications of the mentalité of the wetland inhabitants, it is demonstrated that their mindset remains essentially ‘Mesolithic' for millennia.-Stichting Nederlands Museum voor Anthropologie en Praehistorie -Rijksmuseum van OudhedenEuropean Prehistor

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