CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

The early sedentary farming and herding communities during and after the Neolithisation process, who engaged in more or less intensive yet small-scale agriculture, are referred to here as “horticulturalists”.

Characteristic for our definition of this social formation (in contrast to “agriculturalists”) is a subsistence strategy based on a relianceon mixed agriculture (cultivated and wild plants, domestic and wild animals) and intensive crop cultivation on small-scale plots. Horticulturalists have a much smaller potential to achieve surplus production, store and accumulate wealth, and to develop internal social specialisation as compared to agriculturalists and pastoralists. Due to the small scale of production, human labour is a limiting variable rather than land ownership. Most horticulturalistsin our study area occupied rather small settlements and seem to have constituted small-scale social groups. Especially for the early phase of the Neolithic period, isotopic studies suggest that members of a settlement community might have been engaged in rather complicated and differentiated patterns of mobility. Regional links between the low-population social and residence groups are created and maintained by means of different social mechanisms, including ritual practices, the exchange of exotic goods, feasting, strict ideologies furthering uniform behaviour, or the construction of and engagement with monuments.