2012-12-14

Migration versus acculturation of the Linear Band Keramik in the region

Around 5400 BC, the territories of  the northern part of Dutch South- Limburg and the adjacent areas suddenly are populated by farmers of the so called Linear Band Keramik Culture, LinearBandkeramik Kultur (LBK)  'migrating'  from the south- east ( Dunube region) into the German Rhine- Valley, where they than crossed the German Aldenhover Platte, to populate the west-bank of the Meuse river near Elsloo, Stein and  Geleen  in Dutch South Limburg, the so called  Graetheide -triangle.
Afterwards, they spread southwards into the Belgian Hesbaye region., probably  by increasing  population- pressure. 
This is the official version of the migration from the LBK into the loess areas of Southern Limburg and the adjacent Hesbaye region in Belgium.
The question is, if this outmost spread of the LBK to the west,  was not a simple part of a more large ongoing acculturation process, where hunter- gatherers adapted their food economy by ( additional) agricultural activities.
It is hard to believe, when we speak of a migration, the members of the LBK -Culture just walked into an existing territory of  hunter- gatherer groups that lived  here during the entire Mesolithic. It is hard to believe, the native  hunter -gatherers  simply said: "Welcome, you strange farmers!  Feel free to burn or fell parts of our forests, use everything you like,- including our flint sources (Banholt, Rijckholt, Rullen),  we don't care if you take any holy places,  we just move over to another part of our territory, so you can do whatever you like and take what you like." Would you do the same in your garden, or - in your house?

The spread of the LBK in Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. 1. They settled at the loess. 2. The loeesbelt however is much larger, why didn't  they move further?

After the Palaeolithic, with its park- tundra landscape,  there was a dramatic reduction in territory, needed for hunting purposes. This was the result of the change in climate, that brought a more wide variety of biotopes and habitats, with an optimum in the Atlantikum period ( late Mesolithc). The contradiction is, that parallel with the diminution of the needed territory we see an increase of people living in our country
( estimated 1 inhabitant / 100 km2 at the open tundra -biome during the Palaeolithic, till 1 inhabitant /10 km2 during the final -Mesolithic, see also Rozoy, 1997)

The Late Mesolithic hunter groups from the region of South Limburg were part of the Rhine -Meuse -Schelde  Mesolithic (RMS/B), see: Street et al, 2002.
The introduction of agriculture in our region is in my opinion something that best is viewed from the original inhabitants,so the indigenous hunter- gatherer societies. By the time the agriculture is introduced in our region ( ca 5300 BC) the concept of a farming economy was probably not new for the local inhabitants, as this was already ongoing in Central Europe, by the 'Danube movement' of  Neolithisation 6300 -5600 BC. This must have been certainly noticed  by the local hunter gatherers, especially the farming activities in the Rhine valley nearby ( approx.  50- 100 km to the east).
So the movement of what we call neolithic attributions ( villages, sedentary lifestyle, pottery, food economy mainly based on agriculture)  was already ongoing for centuries in the adjacent areas of the regional Mesolithic territory . Such territory is  based on tool typology and e.g. the use of Wommersom- quartzite.( see e.g. Vanmontfort, 2007).
 On the other hand, there was an ongoing reduction in surface of the territories of the tribes during the Final Mesolithic,  leading to a semi- sedentary lifestyle by hunter gatherer groups themselves.
An example.
Hunter- gatherers, that are opening small parts of the forest to improve the amount of hazel (Corylus avellana) or that make meads by deforestation, to have a free line of fire to shoot the game, are changing and influencing their environment, but this is on a small scale basis: non of this is really visible in regional and inter-regional pollen-diagrams ( Janssen, 1960, Bunnik 1999).
At the same time, a natural environment , especially with a number of different habitats, could provide small groups of hunter gatherers in their food. Such a crossing of biotopes/ habitats we find right  in the area of South -Limburg: where the loess area in the east, is connected with  the sandy area in the north and the northwest, in combination with wider and more narrow valleys, with large variety in gradients in the palaeo environment, ranging from running water ( Maas, Gulp, Geul and many small brooks), ponds and moors ( the whole area around Meerssen and Rijckholt/  Gronsveld, till dry habitats on the cretaceous and gravel-rich drained soils on the plateaus.
In this particular region, elvium type flint is very common at the surface of slopes and hilltops, so this is also a region of  flintsources. The flintsource of Banholt is regarded to be the oldest flint source- mine of South -Limburg, ( and so for the wider region) exploited by the LBK of the Dutch  Graetheide cluster and the German Aldenhover Platte ( Brounen & Peeters 2000/2001). The distance to this Graetheide -region is ca 20 km.
The LBK however is not noticed in the region of Banholt, Mheer, St. Geertruid, Margraten, Slenaken , etc. so not in the large area between the two separate LBK clusters of The Graetheide and the Hesbaye.  How did they know about this particular flint-mine and  the quality of the flint?  This flint source was  located  more inland- further from the Meuse river-  at the forested plateau, where no LBK settlements are known.
Or is this only one of the many other eluvium flint locations ( like e.g. Schiepersberg, Trichterberg, etc.) that has been exploited but we do not know the extent of use of these mines yet?
Recently, the author found a large number of  small sized flake/ bladelet- cores of eluvium flint near Banholt, possibly the Banholt -mine was well known during the pre-Neolithic period ( article at this blog  in preparation).

 Small flint cores of eluvium flint, found near Banholt

Two 50 grams hammer stones measuring ca 4 x 4 cm , probably from the Late Mesolithic / Early Neolithic, found at Banholt

Why don't we find LBK settlements in the region of the flint mines, e.g. near Rijckholt, near Meerssen, near Banholt or Rullen, where we find the same fertile loess with small attributes to the river? How can we interpret finds of asymmetric points with a RIP near Rijckholt?
How could the LBK people cross the whole area without interventions with the indigenous hunter gatherers, as their interest was completely different - the LBK searching for minerals for the production of flint tools, adzes, pottery etc. the Mesolithic hunters searching for game. The brook valleys were partially cleared by the members of the LBK culture,  for the grazing of the cattle.Here is a conflict in land -use of both groups.
 Especially the brook valleys, middle terrace and lower parts of the sloping regions were suitable for hunting, while the river and affluent brooks were used for fishing purposes.
The plateau was forested with immense lime- tree forests ( Tilia sp.), comparative with today's, relative dark, sombre monotone beech-forests (Fagus sylvaticae), a habitat where we only would find squirrels and  birds, not exactly a hunting place. The hunting locations were located  in more open areas, around pools, marshland, and in half open landscapes, like shrub-lands.
Farmsteads, or villages needed a certain space, and  had access to valley floors, while small-scale cereal cultivation in fixed plots adjacent to the settlements meant they need a rather substantial part of the forest for living. Such cleared lands were covered with ( ruderal and pioneer) weeds that were established in pollen -diagrams, so these cleared lands would have been used over a long period of time.
It is also noticed that sites of the LBK appeared in clusters (Kruk 1973). At Merzbach (D) it is estimated, the used surface by LBK activites ( so called Wirtschaftgebiet, or micro-area)  had a surface of  ca 300 ha. In the Dutch Graetheide -cluster, farms of the LBK were located one km form each other always with a view from the plateau (Bakels 1978, Modderman, 1982).
This meant, for groups of hunter -gatherers, the entire Maas/ Meuse valley was dissected by the LBK , not only in the axe from the south to the north, but also from east to west.
The nearest clusters of LBK villages were located at 30 km from the Graetheide, at the Aldenhover Platte in Germany , and  20 km to the south near Heeswater in Belgium.The question is, when you enter a foreign area, why you build clusters of villages that are located so far from each other- this cannot be explained by the simple fact of the soil-type (loess) as the whole area of South -Limburg, the region of the Fourons / Voeren  in Belgium is one big loess area with great possibilities for farming, except of coarse for  the highest parts (>200m) which areas were not suitable for prehistoric agriculture.

In addition to this, it is surprising that  lots of  finds, attributed to the LBK, mainly in the form of pottery sherds  are reported from the sandy area of Middle Limburg.but without  any traces of settlement.
Moreover,  finds of 'pure Mesolithic sites" only are reported from  the Middle of Limburg and the adjacent Belgian Kempen area ( see at this blog: the Regional Limburg (NL) The  Mesolithic, including references).
In tool typology, Danubian armatures, of which the traditional asymmetric LBK point is an example,  has been noticed as a functional key type for the transitional phase  with the Mesolithic  (Robinson,  Jadin  and Bosquet, 2010), demonstrating the close relation of the used tool types during the M-N transitional phase, but also demonstrates the intra- specific difference in tool types( i.c. armatures) made by different LBK groups, living in the same area( i.c. the Hesbaye region). Abandoning the strict boundary between Neolithic and Mesolithic is also suggested by others, based on observations , especially from the archaeobotany (Nielsen 2009, Taylor 2012 ).

Acculturation by indigenous people (?)
What, if only the culture belonging to the LBK was brought into the region and this was not a migration by the people?  The reflection of the LBK - culture , as it appears in the (local) archaeological correlate, is indicating a full Neolithic 'tradition' - as if this tradition locally has been practiced over long time. But what if the local hunter -gatherers took over the principles of agriculture, or fit them into their own lifestyle, that already  had become semi- sedentary ( seasonal activities, seasonal migrations).   What if, e.g , the new Neolithic farmers, that in reality were the indigenous  Mesolithic hunter- gatherers , used ( a part of) the cleared forests to shoot the game,  as just like today, the roe and red deer and other small animals like hares appear in open fields.Usually the hunting land was located  in  the open and half open landscape types,so  in the valleys ( inundation zones) ,  around large marshlands and near pools, etc .
The basic principle of keeping domesticated animals was neither unknown to them as the principle of agriculture. The latter statement is based on the fact that agriculture is nothing other than use the nature in a selective way, to benefit from certain species. Even for the Neolithic period it is difficult to see if species are cultivated ( 'privileged', by changing the variables of the habitat) or gathered ( i.e. Elder Sambucus nigra, Blackberry  Rubus sp., Hazel Corylus avellana).
Mixed properties of  the Neolithic and Mesolithic way of life  we see for example  in the Ceramic Mesolithic, a Mesolithic lifestyle with pottery  ( Ertebølle in Denmark and non- ceramic pre -pottery cultures in the Levant) .Till around 6000 BC the Neolithisation of Europe stops at the border of the Near East, to spread 'rapidly' afterwards by two separate movements: one following  the Mediterranean coastline ( Cardium culture), spreading to the north and another by the Starčevo culture (Northern Balkans) into North West Europe.
Afterwards, we see a rapid spread of  farming during  several hundreds years ( 5600 -5300 BC) in the German Rhine valley, with the oldest LBK in The Netherlands at ca 5300 BC.

A good example of acculturation is given by the example of an imaginary excavation in the future,  let 's say in 4000 AD, in the Belgian town of Hasselt.
Besides of typical "Belgian" things like a frying pan, or a statue of "Manneke Pis", a typical Belgian toy train, etc.,  they would find many objects, that are definitely from another 'culture',  e.g. a cola cans, indicating the Belgian people were drinking cola, which is attributed to be a cultural habit of the USA.  No -one would state that the Americans migrated  into Belgium and started living there from the mid 20 th century. This example proves the misconception of apparently well explainable phenomena.
When we regard the LBK as a pure cultural phenomena, it brought in new things, like plant-seeds ( wheat,lentils and peas) and domestic animals ( cows and swines) and the building of large houses and a sedentary lifestyle. This whole new range of new ' ideas'  of coarse cannot simply be copied in an abstract form, so  people from outside the region ( Rhine valley?) or at least  people that has been  'neolithized' ( were already familiar in practicing the Neolithic skills)  must have been involved in the process. 

Maybe there have been relations between some local  Mesolithic hunter -gatherer groups and LBK - groups in the Rhine valley, maybe in a cooperation, or several members of  the local hunter -gatherer groups split off to become a farmer, so were changing their life drastically.  This change in lifestyle is something like as now people sign up for the army: the difference between a civilian and a soldier is also accompanied by  new behaviors, new rules, new clothes, a totally different world compared to the civilian world, and moreover a new perspective  of life and living.  One chooses for a new lifestyle when one thinks this will improve health, wealthy, or just if it there is a more certain way of life. This , however does not explain the social relations between the LBK settlements- but it is also possible there was a natural contact between those that were farming, like today similar groups have relations with each other. Is this also explaining the so called palimpsests that always seem to occur in sites where both LBK tools and microliths are found?

I cannot think about the idea, the indigenous people- even when they were in small numbers ( for an estimated 1 inhabitant /10km2,  the whole of South -Limburg would have had ca 90  inhabitants for the Late Mesolithic  ) let new colonists enter, to take over the land and freely use the resources of the region. This would of coarse only have happened , in case of  large intimidation or pressure by the new colonists, if   the colonists entered in large numbers, with better weaponry,... or it happened with very strong arguments, to persuade the indigenous people  to change their economy and lifestyle.
 Still I think, there had to be some sort of co-existence of both the traditional hunting/ fishing/ farming economy and the new farming economy in the region for quite some time. This, while in the Rhine- valley  farming had become a new ( additional) economy for the indigenous, during several hundreds of years before the colonization of parts of the South Limburg plateau in 5400 BC.
 In the Belgian Kempen (Campine)  region, the Mesolithic ( way of life - proved by the use of microliths in the weaponry )was ongoing till at least 4000 BC, and the production of flint micro- blades  during the period of the Michelsberg- Culture (MK) is suggesting the Mesolithic ( nomadic?) lifestyle was still ongoing.





Small tool production at Rullen (B) noticed at a single location at Rullen (-Haut) , suggesting these tools were made for use in a ( an ongoing?) nomadic lifestyle.The tools , found at Rullen are attributed to non specified Late -Neolithic cultures (Vermeersch et al, 2006), but are such tools demonstrating the hunter gatherer lifestyle in the region?
 
References in  the text
Bakels, C.C. (1978), Four Linearbandkeramik Settlements and Their Environment: A Paleoecological Study of Sittard. Stein, Elsloo and Hienheim, Analecta Praehistorica I.eidensia 11.
Brounen, F.T.S., & H. Peeters (2000/2001) Vroeg-neolithische vuursteenwinning en -bewerking in de Banholtergrubbe (Banholt, gem. Margraten), Archeologie 10, 133-150.
Bunnik, F.P.M.  (1999)  Vegetationsgeschichte der Lössbörden zwischen Rhein und Maas : von der Bronzezeit bis in die frühe Neuzeit = Vegetation history and land-use in the loess area between Rhine and Meuse : from the Bronze Age until the 18th Century = Vegetatiegeschiedenis en landgebruik van het loessgebied tussen Rijn en Maas : vanaf de Bronstijd tot aan de 18e eeuw, PhD thesis/  Proefschrift Universiteit Utrecht
Janssen C.R.1960 On the late –glacial and post-glacial vegetation of South Limburg NL 
Kruk J. 1973 Studia osadnicze nad neolitem wyzyn lessowych, Wroclaw. Ossolineum Engl. version of the  British Archaeological Reports S93, Oxford).

Krause-Kyora,B et al. (2013) Use of domesticated pigs by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in northwestern Europe    Nature Communications 4, / 234     Article
Modderman  P.J.R, Dr.  (1982)  Prehistoric Settlement Patterns Around the Southern North Papers Presented at a Colloquium, Held in Honour of Professor Dr. P.J.R. Modderman, Leiden, 3-7 May 1982

Nielsen. E. H. (2009) The Mesolithic background for the Neolithisation process

Archaeological Survey of the Canton of Lucerne, CH UDK 902.67(494)"634\636" Documenta Praehistorica XXXVI PDF


Rozoy J.-G. (1997) Territoires sociaux et environnement en France du nord et en Belgique de 14000 à 6000 BP. ... et du début de l'Holocène en Europe du Nord-Ouest

Street ,M.,  Baales, M., Cziesla E.,  Hartz,S.,  Heinen, M.,  Olaf J.,  Koch,I., Pasda, C.,
Terberger,T.  and  Vollbrecht J.  (2002) Final Paleolithic and Mesolithic Research in Reunied Germany ; Journal of World Prehistory, Vol. 15, No. 4, December 2001 ( 2002)

Taylor, B ,  Milner, N , Taylor, M , Conneller, C ; (2012)   Substantial settlement in the European Early Mesolithic: new research at Star Carr PDF by Academia Edu
Vanmontfort, B, (2007) Bridging the gap. The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in a frontier zone ; Documenta Praehistoria XXXIV ( 4-15)
Vermeersch  P.M., J. Chow G. Creemers I. Masson-Loodts A.J. Groenendijk M. De Bie  (2006) Neolithische vuursteenontginning op desite van Rullen (Voeren, prov. Limburg).PDF

See also the recent article  (17 september 2014) about the ADN of Euroepeans, demosntarting high percentages of original hunter- gatherer ADN in Northern European inhabitants

4 comments:

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