May 09, 2012

Agriculture arrived in Cyprus 10,600 years ago

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201693109

First wave of cultivators spread to Cyprus at least 10,600 y ago

Jean-Denis Vigne et al.

Early Neolithic sedentary villagers started cultivating wild cereals in the Near East 11,500 y ago [Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)]. Recent discoveries indicated that Cyprus was frequented by Late PPNA people, but the earliest evidence until now for both the use of cereals and Neolithic villages on the island dates to 10,400 y ago. Here we present the recent archaeological excavation at Klimonas, which demonstrates that established villagers were living on Cyprus between 11,100 and 10,600 y ago. Villagers had stone artifacts and buildings (including a remarkable 10-m diameter communal building) that were similar to those found on Late PPNA sites on the mainland. Cereals were introduced from the Levant, and meat was obtained by hunting the only ungulate living on the island, a small indigenous Cypriot wild boar. Cats and small domestic dogs were brought from the mainland. This colonization suggests well-developed maritime capabilities by the PPNA period, but also that migration from the mainland may have occurred shortly after the beginning of agriculture.

Link

28 comments:

Beastmanager said...

I wonder which watercrafts did they use, cyprus is only 40 nautic miles from turkey but they seem to have transported domestic animals with them. A pity that no stone tools are linked to seafaring, so all the traces (wood) are lost...

Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The cats are a surprise. Often the assumption is that the domesticated themselves only starting in Egypt.

Clay said...

There is no obvious economic use for cats, either, unless possibly killing mice around grain storage. It suggests a level of economic surplus and disposable wealth.

eurologist said...

The idea that wild boar was introduced many centuries earlier as a "live food stash" is interesting - especially since such handling of animals may be the first step towards domestication. Seems that the adjacent Levantine and Anatolian population density was already reaching a point that food was getting scarce, and fishers were motivated to travel rather long (>70km) distances over open waters.

terryt said...

"This colonization suggests well-developed maritime capabilities by the PPNA period, but also that migration from the mainland may have occurred shortly after the beginning of agriculture".

It has always appeared likely that the first people to Cyprus arrived around 'between 11,100 and 10,600 y ago', because that's when the extinctions on the island began. What is a little bit of a surprise is that those first arrivals carried agriculture.

"I wonder which watercrafts did they use, Cyprus is only 40 nautic miles from turkey but they seem to have transported domestic animals with them".

That fact, combined with the whole human arrival at that time, indicates reasonably conclusively that boating was introduced as an already reasonably well-advanced technology into the region from somewhere else .

eurologist said...

That fact ... indicates reasonably conclusively that boating was introduced as an already reasonably well-advanced technology into the region from somewhere else.

Terry,

I was also thinking that clearly, island-hopping must have been much more common in the Aegean, especially since with rising waters, familiar places soon were only reachable by boat. However, much of the Anatolian and part of the Levantine coast line is practically only reachable by boat. So, traveling 10km or so for fishing and for transport to establish another settlement down the coast was probably commonplace. Perhaps the lore of many islands in the Aegean was enough to have some set out for discovery. I am wondering, in really good weather, can you see the island from some mountain on the mainland? That would definitely help.

Creative said...

I think cats in all sizes were always viewed as something mystical and extended a pure economic use.
This viewpoint is for instance also present in Islamic traditions and hadiths.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3611453.stm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muezza

Annie Mouse said...

Cats were valued in boats and on farms (barn cats) as working animals until quite recently. A good mouser was much prized. I dont think we can assume they were luxury animals.

And yes, it is very interesting that they were already in place at the very start of agriculture. They dont travel well so you would expect them to associate with established settlements or permanent homes rather than nomadic folk.

Orang More said...

Well, cats for farmers make a lot of sense, they eat the rats and mice that otherwise feed on the grain.

apostateimpressions said...

It would be interesting to know whether the darling cats on Cyprus have any descent from the early island cats. Ten millennia of social adaptation may have influenced their behavioural traits, producing a particularly genteel breed. I would guess that British military families may have taken some cats to the island with them. There are 9 million cats in the UK and 35-40 breeds. :) (Although it is estimated that they kill 275 million other animals here per year and hunt some endangered species like the sweet dormouse.)

Annie Mouse said...

Yep Britain is heaving in cats. But it always struck me that it was also heaving in birds and other wildlife, even in the heart of the city. It seems in Britain a natural balance has been achieved.

Jeffery said...

Given the dating evidence it would be interesting to see how any Glacial Overlay affected the area and therefore might explain access via Land Bridges rather than Maritime exploitation. It may also explain how certain species were left isolated in pockets where there was access to food.

terryt said...

"I was also thinking that clearly, island-hopping must have been much more common in the Aegean, especially since with rising waters, familiar places soon were only reachable by boat. However, much of the Anatolian and part of the Levantine coast line is practically only reachable by boat. So, traveling 10km or so for fishing and for transport to establish another settlement down the coast was probably commonplace. Perhaps the lore of many islands in the Aegean was enough to have some set out for discovery. I am wondering, in really good weather, can you see the island from some mountain on the mainland? That would definitely help".

But where the problem lies in relation to an ancient boating technology in the Mediterranean is the complete absence of humans on islands one would expect to be reasonably accessible from the adjacent mainland, including many Aegean islands. There are a few exeptions, such as evidence for ancient presence on Crete and some islands immediately offshore from Anatolia, but even these could possibly be expalained as being the result of something other than boating. The apparently quite rapid expansion around the Mediterranean islands at the beginning of the Neolithic is a potent argument for efficient boating to have been introduced fully-formed from somewhere outside the Mediterranean.

eurologist said...

The apparently quite rapid expansion around the Mediterranean islands at the beginning of the Neolithic is a potent argument for efficient boating to have been introduced fully-formed from somewhere outside the Mediterranean.

Terry - sorry, I don't follow. Necessity is the mother of invention. Quickly rising population density and concomitant scarcity of protein resources are very apparent here even (or more so!) in the pre-domesticated cattle and sheep/goat/pigs era. And, as I mentioned, boats clearly were used locally for close-range fishing and travel/transport along the coast long before the demand for long-range protein acquisition and travel/transport arose.

fmgarzam said...

HELP. Can anyone here speculate on how early could navigation (coastal perhaps) could have connected the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean?
I suspect this sort of navigation/colonization could be the source of hard to find DYS markers’ matches (like northeaster Mexico’s Med/Semitic - E-M35*/E1b1b1).
Say cases of quite small early migrations. Cadiz region, or even Tras-os-Montes and upper Duoro/Duero might be a case of an early combination of Sea-Ocean-River navigation.
How possible and how early could that have been?
THANKS

Jeffery said...

I believe it's relatively safe to say that boating technology would have been based upon Reeds and Thick stalked Rushes tied in bundles found in freshwater. The effort would have been directed towards rope/string making to facilitate the crude assembly. In the absence of large Bark bearing trees it seems logical and requires far less effort than hollowing out logs with stone tools.
As far as the Wild Boar is concerned it would be interesting to know if it's size is diminished at all from the norm based on Mainland populations. Any size reduction would indicate limited resources and therefore an adaptation to it's isolated environment.

apostateimpressions said...

"Yep Britain is heaving in cats. But it always struck me that it was also heaving in birds and other wildlife, even in the heart of the city. It seems in Britain a natural balance has been achieved."

Annie, a study by Oxford University in 2010 estimated that 40 species go extinct each year in the UK, almost one a week and that we have lost 3000 of our 60,000 species over the last two centuries and at an increasing rate due to the growth of the human population, urban sprawl, the use of water and the destruction of ancient habitats. Liberal social policies are further accelerating the loss of species. The human population remains out of control in the UK, mainly due to immigration, with a third of births now to immigrants. The human population has passed 60,000,000 and it is expected to almost double to 110,000,000 over the next 70 years. None of the politicians give a damn. During the next lifetime we will have to build as many cities as we already have. Also the collapse of marriage means that 1/3 of households now have a single occupant, which means that even more houses are needed. Obviously the same extermination is taking place across the planet and scientists estimate that we could lose half of our ten million species during this century. We currently have an extinction rate of 50 species a day compared to a natural extinction rate of one species every five years. This is happening because of everyday human activity (not because of possible "global warming") and again, politician simply dont give a damn. Human population control is anathema to the liberal conceptual framework. Sadly the British industrial revolution is a major cause of this epic catastrophe and the historical development of liberal ideas by British philosophers has compounded the problem. So I cant agree that a natural balance has been achieved in Britain. Industrial capitalism and liberalism may lead to a global collapse of eco-systems.

http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2010/101005.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7115155.stm

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Largest_mass_extinction_in_65_million_years_underway,_scientists_say

eurologist said...

I am wondering, in really good weather, can you see the island from some mountain on the mainland? That would definitely help.

Comparing to seeing conditions in other environments, I am now convinced that it would have been (and maybe still is) rather easy to see Cyprus from the mainland in good weather conditions (e.g., passing rain front with following dry north winds). A few times later, you know where to start out from to head dead south, and you are ready to go with few navigational aids. Just don't go during spring and autumn storms, and wait for a decent north wind.

And, by that time, I am assuming boats were at least partially made out of wood planks - not only reeds etc.

Mark D said...

fmgarzan - re "the source of hard to find DYS markers’ matches (like northeaster Mexico’s Med/Semitic - E-M35*/E1b1b1)"

let me suggest the recent book (2012) "The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess" by Jeff Wheelright, who discusses the DNA legacy of conversos in New Mexico, whose ancestors left Spain and mixed with native genes in Mexico and the American Southwest.

Navigator said...

"Can anyone here speculate on how early could navigation (coastal perhaps) could have connected the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean?"

Not that particular geographic region but in general:

This is an interesting online resource for the layman that presents a picture of how "advanced" pre-historic humans were as far back as the upper paleolithic and likely before that.

http://www.ablongman.com/html/productinfo/millerwood/MillerWood_c08.pdf

Early modern humans of southeast Asia and New Guinea (in Sunda and Sahul),

"..... were able to travel long distances over water and to navigate difficult sea passages. They must have had rafts or boats capable of maintaining buoyancy for several days in order to cross the open water between Sunda and Sahul. Like those of their archaic Homo predecessors,the boats or rafts made by modern humans have not been preserved. The places where they lived and built their watercraft are now submerged under water.Their boats, and their tools and dwellings, were probably constructed of bamboo or wood, materials that would rarely be preserved in the archaeological record.

By 35,000 to 30,000 years ago, modern humans in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region were skilled enough as seafarers to reach many islands, including Timor, the Moluccas, New Britain, and New Ireland...... "

Navigator said...

This is an interesting online resource for the layman that presents a picture of how "advanced" pre-historic humans were as far back as the upper paleolithic and likely before that.

http://www.ablongman.com/html/productinfo/millerwood/MillerWood_c08.pdf

Early modern humans of southeast Asia and New Guinea (in Sunda and Sahul),

"..... were able to travel long distances over water and to navigate difficult sea passages. They must have had rafts or boats capable of maintaining buoyancy for several days in order to cross the open water between Sunda and Sahul. Like those of their archaic Homo predecessors,the boats or rafts made by modern humans have not been preserved. The places where they lived and built their watercraft are now submerged under water.Their boats, and their tools and dwellings, were probably constructed of bamboo or wood, materials that would rarely be preserved in the archaeological record.

By 35,000 to 30,000 years ago, modern humans in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region were skilled enough as seafarers to reach many islands, including Timor, the Moluccas, New Britain, and New Ireland...... "

Onur said...

Apostate,

I think the most efficent solution to Europe's immigration problem is deindustrialization. Europe is too industrialized and too rich today. A poor, isolated and backward Europe would be far less attractive for immigrants.

CC Bilgin said...

I am wondering, in really good weather, can you see the island from some mountain on the mainland?

On clear days, Cyprus is visible from Turkey, even at the coastline.

Given the dating evidence it would be interesting to see how any Glacial Overlay affected the area and therefore might explain access via Land Bridges rather than Maritime exploitation.

The island had been isolated since at least 5 million years, hence there were no land bridges during human presence.

eurologist said...

On clear days, Cyprus is visible from Turkey, even at the coastline.

CC Bilgin,

Thanks for the confirmation. As you can see above, I came to the same conclusion using theoretical calculations considering similar environments.

This is really important, since it shows on the one hand how desperate the quickly growing southern Anatolian population was securing protein resources, and on the other hand, how they were willing to take significant risks and at the same time developed/ adapted technologies to make this happen.

Jeffery said...

The island had been isolated since at least 5 million years, hence there were no land bridges during human presence.

That seems like a rather Definitive statement, however Cyprus is predominantly in the subductive zone and active vulcanism in the region due to the proximity of the African plate is indicative of a dynamic Landscape. Populations may have no choice but to be reactive to such events.

apostateimpressions said...

Onur, yes thats why immigrants pass straight through Turkey and into Europe, because of relative development. But oil production peaked in 2006 and since then it has been on a plataeu and inelastic, unable to expand to meet rising demand, which is causing higher oil prices and economic contraction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Brent_Spot_monthly.svg

We are still in the early days of peak oil and it remains to be seen whether oil production will decrease in steps or how fast it will go over a cliff. It is often in times of crisis that nations assert their will to live. Let us not forget that the Turkish nation was founded through ethnic cleansing and genocide after WWI and that Cyprus was divided on similar lines. Likewise Greece is now asserting its national will to live in a time of crisis. Nature moves essentially through the will to live and it takes intelligence and sensitivity to reduce the harm done to other species. Even the introduction of the darling cat has an impact on the survival of other species. What is happening today is far more serious, Im sure that you agree?

terryt said...

"Terry - sorry, I don't follow. Necessity is the mother of invention".

IF humans in the region had had boats earlier they would almost certainly have been enticed onto the closer islands. The fact that they don't seem to have been so enticed suggests strongly that they didn't have boats capable of reaching even the closest islands.

"And, as I mentioned, boats clearly were used locally for close-range fishing and travel/transport along the coast long before the demand for long-range protein acquisition and travel/transport arose".

Are you sure of that?

"By 35,000 to 30,000 years ago, modern humans in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region were skilled enough as seafarers to reach many islands, including Timor, the Moluccas, New Britain, and New Ireland...... "

That was in the far southeast. And humans must have reached Australia by boats of some sort around 50,000 years ago. The evidence indicates to me that effective boating arrived in the west long after that time. Humans could reach many islands in the southeast but don't appear to have reached any in the Mediterranean, apart from a few odd examples.

"That seems like a rather Definitive statement, however Cyprus is predominantly in the subductive zone and active vulcanism in the region due to the proximity of the African plate is indicative of a dynamic Landscape. Populations may have no choice but to be reactive to such events".

I've just been re-reading one of my old Ornithological Society magazines and I came across this interesting bit of information concerning the Kermadec Islands:

"The first recorded eruption on Raoul was in March 1814 ... Captain Barnes had sounded in Denham Bay in February that year: two months later he found an island about three miles in circumference over the site where his survey had shown not less than 45 fathoms. When Captain Denham made his 1854 survey this island had disappeared."

Such geological activity may explain the presence of humans on Crete and several other Aegean islands long before the Neolithic.

"Human population control is anathema to the liberal conceptual framework".

Almost every problem humans face is a consequence of too many people on the planet.

Onur said...

Apostate,

I do not regard history as systematic as you. History moves through the actions of individuals, and it is usually a handful of individuals whose choices can have big impacts on the fates of societies at a certain time. So there is too much room for variation and uncertainty, at least over the long term. More importantly, history has no direction, it just moves on. Every individual is inclined to exert his will when given the opportunity, and you cannot really know someone's will until its fulfilment. Two individuals can look pretty similar from the outside, but in their hearts they may be poles apart.