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The First Farmers of Europe
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Book description

Knowledge of the origin and spread of farming has been revolutionised in recent years by the application of new scientific techniques, especially the analysis of ancient DNA from human genomes. In this book, Stephen Shennan presents the latest research on the spread of farming by archaeologists, geneticists and other archaeological scientists. He shows that it resulted from a population expansion from present-day Turkey. Using ideas from the disciplines of human behavioural ecology and cultural evolution, he explains how this process took place. The expansion was not the result of 'population pressure' but of the opportunities for increased fertility by colonising new regions that farming offered. The knowledge and resources for the farming 'niche' were passed on from parents to their children. However, Shennan demonstrates that the demographic patterns associated with the spread of farming resulted in population booms and busts, not continuous expansion.


'Shennan's book is likely to become an important text for scholars concerned with the archeology of Europe and the Neolithic generally, as well as a wider readership interested in a key transition in human history. A grand narrative indeed.'

Source: Evolutionary Anthropology

'Adding to his major body of work on cultural evolution, quantitative archaeology, and Neolithic Europe, Stephen Shennan offers a concise yet richly detailed overview of the emergence and spread of agriculture across Europe using a multifaceted perspective informed by diverse archaeological approaches.'

Selin E. Nugent Source: Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution

'Overall, this book offers a remarkable wealth of updated information which is well-articulated in a coherent explanation that will surely stimulate new research about the Neolithic in Europe and the Near East.'

Juan José Ibáñez Source: European Journal of Archaeology

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  • Chapter 1 - Introduction: Population, Resources and Life Histories
    pp 1-15
  • Chapter 3 - The First Westward Expansion of Farming
    pp 55-78
  • Chapter 4 - The Spread of Farming into Central Europe
    pp 79-105


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