What was life like for a neolithic farmer in ancient Europe?

Oct 2013
14,412
Europix
#31
Most people in the Neolithic were semi-sedentary. Their primitive agricultural techniques would quickly exhaust the soil and the people would be forced to move somewhere else in order to find suitable land for agriculture. Some notable exceptions to this were areas in the Middle East, Egypt and Mesopotamia (for example, we are pretty sure Jericho was inhabited throughout the entire year).
I very much doubt that permanent settlements/sedentary populations were the exceptions.

We have permanent settlements all over Europe from approx 5000 BC, and if I'm not wrong, a couple of thousand of years before in the Danubian plane.
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,032
Republika Srpska
#32
I may have misspoken in my previous post. I made it sound like Neolithic settlements were not even inhabited for a full year. Obviously, this is not true, the life of a settlement was determined by the quality of the land and settlements could obviously last much longer, though eventually people would have to move.
 
Oct 2013
14,412
Europix
#33
I may have misspoken in my previous post. I made it sound like Neolithic settlements were not even inhabited for a full year. Obviously, this is not true, the life of a settlement was determined by the quality of the land and settlements could obviously last much longer, though eventually people would have to move.
No, You haven't misspoken.

I think that the fertile Crescent, Nil, weren't the only places rich enough to sustain a long term permanent habitat.

IMHO, European climate and relief permits a more diversified sources of alimentation that compensate the "productivity" of the Mid-East.

Think at old Serb villages: there was the cultivated land, there was also the fruits, there was also the animals. It wasn't "efficient" quasi-monoculture.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that it's a model that was initiated in the paleolitic.
 
Nov 2018
284
Denmark
#34
Even hunter-gatherers seems to have lived relatively in the same places.

In Denmark in Ertebølle age (5400 f.Kr to about 3,900 f.Kr) just before the introduction of agriculture, one has found settlements both inland and on the coast.

It can be two different cultures, but cottages' design and contents are alike, so some archaeologists believe that the people have moved after the seasons and hunted different game.

Furthermore, there has been found several fish traps along the Danish coast, the largest is found at the Zealand town of Kalundborg, what is found of it is 200 m long.

The longest hazel posts are between 4 and 5 meters. The thinnest are between 3 and 4 cm in diameter and the thickest is 14 cm. in diameter. They are so thight that an eel could not pass through.

One has been wondering how the hunters could get so many almost straight hazel posts; some believe that they must have had some sort of hazel plantation.

It takes 10 - 11 years to breed the four-meter-long, mature hazel posts, which was used thousands of when building the fishing traps.

What I really wanted to say with all this, is that even hunters-gatherers were not so easy to move around, and it would result in broken heads if neighboring tribes tried to force their way into their hunting grounds.
 
Oct 2013
14,412
Europix
#35
Even hunter-gatherers seems to have lived relatively in the same places.

In Denmark in Ertebølle age (5400 f.Kr to about 3,900 f.Kr) just before the introduction of agriculture, one has found settlements both inland and on the coast.

It can be two different cultures, but cottages' design and contents are alike, so some archaeologists believe that the people have moved after the seasons and hunted different game.

Furthermore, there has been found several fish traps along the Danish coast, the largest is found at the Zealand town of Kalundborg, what is found of it is 200 m long.

The longest hazel posts are between 4 and 5 meters. The thinnest are between 3 and 4 cm in diameter and the thickest is 14 cm. in diameter. They are so thight that an eel could not pass through.

One has been wondering how the hunters could get so many almost straight hazel posts; some believe that they must have had some sort of hazel plantation.

It takes 10 - 11 years to breed the four-meter-long, mature hazel posts, which was used thousands of when building the fishing traps.

What I really wanted to say with all this, is that even hunters-gatherers were not so easy to move around, and it would result in broken heads if neighboring tribes tried to force their way into their hunting grounds.
In Neolithic, the phenomenon of transhumance is already attested: sedentary population that seasonally switch from a place to a secondary one and back. The vertical pastoral one (sheep/cattle, from low country to high alpage and back) and the horizontal bee one still exists in regions of Europe. In a lot of cases, only a part of the family left the principal settlement, the rest remaining.

Maybe it's stupid what I ask: isn't what You are talking about a similar thing? Going to shore for the fishing season and inland for the gathering season?
 
Last edited:
Likes: Niobe
Nov 2018
284
Denmark
#36
In Neolithic, the phenomenon of transhumance is already attested: sedentary population that seasonally switch from a place to a secondary one and back. The vertical pastoral one (sheep/cattle, from low country to high alpage and back) and the horizontal bee one still exists in regions of Europe.

Maybe it's stupid what I ask: isn't what You are talking about the a similar thing? Going to shore for the fishing season and inland for the gathering season?
No, it's not, I can see now that I say the same thing in other words.

What I tried to say was that the farmers couldn't just move around as they wanted because the land was occupied, unless the inhabitants had died either in war or epidemics.
 
Feb 2019
649
Pennsylvania, US
#37
I think the North York Moors are technically like a wasteland left behind by overgrazing of neolithic herds/flocks. Supposedly they destroyed the tree cover as well... so they must have had some ability to do so... otherwise their sheep may have “barked” the trees (eaten the bark because it tastes sweet in the fall and winter) and just killed them. My sheep have done this to my favourite lilac shrub. :crying:
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,032
Republika Srpska
#38
No, You haven't misspoken.

I think that the fertile Crescent, Nil, weren't the only places rich enough to sustain a long term permanent habitat.

IMHO, European climate and relief permits a more diversified sources of alimentation that compensate the "productivity" of the Mid-East.

Think at old Serb villages: there was the cultivated land, there was also the fruits, there was also the animals. It wasn't "efficient" quasi-monoculture.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think that it's a model that was initiated in the paleolitic.
You could be right. I was quoting Jacquetta Hawkes' Prehistory book.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
#40
As far as i know, burning for lots of neolithic people (at least in Old Europe) was a kind of symoblism, for regeneration and mystic purpose. For instance, in Trypillian culture houses are systemtically burnt and rebuild over, over time. Maybe they used it for regeneration in a sense that agriculture was the begininng of the year for them and the equinoxe was very important (one of the most important milestone at the time). They could have use burning for agricultural purpose in a way to donate to Godess & Gods (Nature) and maybe they found that it could give better harvest if done from times to times... i think it wasn't for destruction but for mystical purpose as fire was something that Nature gave to human beeings...
Reminds me of how Tibetan Buddhist monks will create large and intricate sand mandalas and then destroy them to symbolize the transience of material life.
You all spot a problem ;) NEolithic stages aren't set at the same time all over Europe...
I would be surprised if there were any pure neolithic cultures at 650 AD. There might've been some incredibly isolated people without the means to make any sort of metal tools, but they likely at least knew of and used metal implements when they could get them.