CRC 1266 - Scales of Transformation

Cluster C: “Horticulturalists”

Graphic Cluster C

Cluster C is divided in two sub-projects (C1, C2). Providing research about early sedentary farming and herding communities, it is part of research focus 2, “Transformations of socio-economic formations”.

C1: Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transformations on the Northern and Central European Plain

C2: The Dynamics of Settlement Concentration Processes and Land-Use in Early Farming Communities of the Northwestern Carpathian Basin

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.

Cluster C brings together two archaeological case studies on the socio-cultural formation of “horticulturalists”, one focusing on Northern Germany and one on the Northeastern Carpathian Basin. Both projects deal with early sedentism and first population a

The establishment of new forms of sedentism is a matter that constitutes one of the “grand transformations” of human history, when for the first time a fully culturallandscape was established. In the periods after “initial Neolithisation”, Neolithic communities undergo several transformations of smaller or larger scale, reach and intensity. Since the Neolithic, landscapes are transformed by alterations of the vegetation – this being a result of human influence or not, or through the active altering of its shape due to human building activities (e.g. from hamlet to village, or from single graves to collective burials in huge monuments). Generally, sedentism is a very coarse concept, brushing over a huge amount of variation. Within the Neolithic period, the phenomena of settlement concentration, of growing settlement sizes and population numbers represent some of the most striking aspects of transformation of the human-environmental relationship. Such processes are necessarily connected to changes in spatial behaviour and subsistence economy and provide a rather straightforward connection to the changes in social organisation of the communities at hand. Both, the social and the environmental transformations connected to processes of population agglomeration can only be understood when viewed against the background of comprehensive reconstructions of land-use, carrying capacity, subsistence strategies and technologies, population numbers and mobility patterns. While C1 will initially (in the first phase) focus on transformations in and between Younger and Late Neolithic societies in four core regions between the North Frisian islands and West Mecklenburg, it will focus on the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the later CRC phases, as the transformation from foraging to farming, from individual burials to collective burials, and the shift of settlements from the coast to inland areas are not yet fully understood. C2 will investigate processes of settlement agglomeration in early