Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Europe: Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1861

Introduction

As is known, the Mesolithic is not distinguished by striking specific traits in the archaeological record: it is actually defined as the age of the “middle” Stone Age, halfway between the “early” Stone Age, or Paleolithic, and the “new” Stone Age, or the Neolithic. In addition, it is the last prehistoric period recognized as such (Rowley-Conwy 1986: 17), and its origin seems to be vitiated by errors of assessment. The first and chief student of European Mesolithic, Grahame Clark (1980), who has also recounted the history of the emergence and development of that concept, concludes that it was defined by the so-called hiatus theory, based first on the belief that there were few archaeological traces of this period (occupation gap), and later also on the belief that the cultures of that period were of minor importance (cultural gap). The theory of discontinuity, according to Clark, “can be shown to have warped much of our thinking” (quoted in Rowley-Conwy 1986: 17). There...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of UtrechtItalian InstituteUtrechtThe Netherlands