Late Neolithic Crises, Collapse, New Ideologies, and Economies, 3500/3000–2200/2000 BC

Part of the Interdisciplinary Contributions to Archaeology book series (IDCA)


By the beginning of the Late Neolithic most of Europe was occupied by farmers. Only the coniferous and tundra areas of northern Europe remained inhabited by hunters and gatherers. In some areas politically complex societies already existed. However, there is a discontinuity in some aspects of archaeological record after 3500–3000 years of farming societies in Europe; perhaps this reflects crises or major changes at the end of the “Old Neolithic” or "Old Europe.” Over the years archaeologists have concentrated on origin problems: farming, political complexity or this or that culture. The endings of things have received less attention. In south-eastern Europe, for example, anthropomorphic clay figurines disappeared, large settlements were abandoned, many destroyed by fire and burial mounds appeared. This affected northern Bulgaria and southern Romania first, around 3800 BC. The shift in the Tripolye culture, i.e., no more big sites, big houses, female figurines and painted pottery, seems to begin about 3500 BC and is almost complete by 3000-2800 BC. Around 3100 or 3000 BC, most large settlements disappeared in central Europe. How are we to interpret these undoubted changes seen in the archaeological record?


Archaeological Record Subsistence Strategy Burial Mound Neolithic Culture Bell Beaker 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

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