Living Neolithization. Micro histories and grand narrative in Neolithic Anatolia and Southeast Europe (c. 7000-5000 BC)

The development and spread of agriculture, animal husbandry and sedentism in the Neolithic period is often seen as one of the great breakthroughs in human history. From a grand narrative point of view, the first farming settlements appeared in the Near East after 10,000 BCE, and after several millennia, the so-called ‘Neolithic way of life’ started to spread to Western Anatolia and Europe. This process of ‘Neolithization’ is often framed as a progressive expansion of innovations from a Near Eastern and Central Anatolian core to Western peripheries. Alongside these sweeping narratives, however, archaeologists have developed alternative ways of studying early farming societies, focusing more on the small scale of daily lives in micro-regional contexts than on the big picture.

With an increasing amount of archaeological data from the regions connecting Anatolia and Europe, there are interesting possibilities for integrating small-scale patterning into larger-scale approaches to the spread of farming. An important starting point is that regions in Western Anatolia, Greece and the Southern Balkans went through parallel (or at least largely overlapping) processes of Neolithization, requiring a departure from the uni-directional ‘expansion’ paradigm. By investigating the long-term regional histories of five selected study regions in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria, this project aims to show how Neolithic ways of life were redefined in regional contexts, which in turn led to changing mechanisms of interaction and expansion.

Habitation practices are taken as the key to studying both the intimate scale of Neolithic daily lives and intergenerational strategies. The project analyses excavation and survey data, focusing on local architectural sequences as well as on regional settlement patterns, in order to understand the spatio-temporal context of the formation of new ways of living together in farming communities. Importantly, the project also incorporates the results of recent and ongoing fieldwork projects, including the results from the NIT excavations at Barcın Höyük in Northwestern Turkey. The project has now reached its final stage, in which the results of the five regional case studies will be compared and a synthesis will be written.

Project details

NWO project (2011-2016)

Elisha van den Bos MA

Prof. Dr. Jan Paul Crielaard

Dr. Fokke Gerritsen


International conference papers 2014

  • European Association of Archaeologists, 20th Annual Meeting in Istanbul, Turkey (September 2014): ‘Food preparation and domestic space in Neolithic Western Anatolia and the Southern Balkans: a comparative approach’.
  • Society for American Archaeology, 79th Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas (April 2014): ‘(Re)building histories: House replacement and intergenerational strategy in the Neolithic of Western Anatolia and the Southern Balkans’.

Publications 2013

  • Bos, E.O. van den (2013). Of People and Patterns: Introducing a multi-scalar approach to Neolithic habitation practices in Western Anatolia and Southeastern Europe (c. 6700-5000 BC). In M. Bouwman, M. van Kesteren & K. Scharringhausen (Eds.), SOJA e-bundel 2012 (pp. 81-88). Amsterdam: Stichting Onderzoek Jonge Archeologen 2013, 81-88.

Publications 2012

  • Bos, E.O. van den (2012). Introducties lopend onderzoek: Promotietraject Elisha O. van den Bos. TMA. Tijdschrift voor mediterrane archeologie, 24(47), 43.