I. Prehistoric Times > K. Early Food Production in the Old World (c. 10,000 B.C.E. and Later) > 2. Early European Farmers
  PREVIOUS NEXT  
CONTENTS · SUBJECT INDEX · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
2. Early European Farmers
 
Near Eastern cereal grains like emmer and bread wheat and domesticated animals were introduced into southeastern Europe and Greece by at least 6000 B.C.E. The local people were already heavily dependent on wild cereal grasses and may have been planting some of them. The first farmers lived in compact villages on river floodplains, occupying the same sites for many generations.  1
After 4500 B.C.E. farming based on cattle herding combined with spring-sown crops like wheat and barley spread over enormous areas of continental Europe. The expansion of farming was a stop-and-go process, coinciding with favorable rainfall cycles and dependent on the distribution of lighter soils easily turned with stone and wood artifacts. These cultivators, known to archaeologists as the Bandkeramik Complex, lived in hamlets of rectangular houses, made of timber and thatch. As each settlement grew, companion villages were founded nearby, gradually filling in vacant land.  2
By 4000 B.C.E., cereal crops and domesticated animals were widely used throughout much of Europe, including Britain. Eventually, farmers settled on heavier soils, and indigenous hunter-gatherer groups gradually adopted the new economies. This was a time when more elaborate burial customs developed throughout Europe, as ancestor cults came into fashion, with their close ties to ancestral farming land.  3
In western Europe, groups of villages built communal stone tombs, often called megaliths, where important kin leaders and people with genealogical ties to kin group ancestors were buried. Those who supervised the building of shrines and communal tombs, and led the rituals conducted there, assumed increasing political and social power in new, nonegalitarian European societies.  4
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

CONTENTS · SUBJECT INDEX · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUS NEXT