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Aceramic Neolithic
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The early part of the Neolithic period in Western Asia before the widespread use of pottery (c. 8500-6000 BC) in an economy based on the cultivation of crops or the rearing of animals or both. Aceramic Neolithic groups were in the Levant (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and B), Zagros area (Karim Shahir, Jarmoan), and Anatolia (Hacilar Aceramic Neolithic). Aceramic Neolithic groups are more rare outside Western Asia.
Amur Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A number of Neolithic cultures recognized near the Amur River in eastern Siberia. They are mainly defined by the presence of pottery. In the Middle Amur region, the earliest phase is known as the Novopetrovka blade culture. Later is the Gromatukha culture, with unifacially flaked adzes, bifacially flaked arrowheads, and laurel-leaf knives and spearheads. Settlements on Osinovoe Lake, which are characterized by large pit houses, date to around the 3rd millennium BC. Millet was cultivated, representing the first food production in the area, and there was fishing. A fourth Neolithic culture in the area, dating to the mid-2nd millennium BC was a combination of farming and fishing by people who moved there from the Lower Amur area. The Neolithic of the Lower Amur is known from sites such as Kondon, Suchu Island, and Voznesenovka. Fishing provided the economic basis for the establishment of unusually large sedentary settlements of pit houses - a situation paralleling the examples from the Northwest coast of North America. In the 1st millennium BC, iron was introduced and fortified villages constructed. In Middle Amur, millet farming became the lifeway.
Baikal Neolithic
CATEGORY: chronology; culture
DEFINITION: The Neolithic period of the Lake Baikal region in eastern Siberia. Stratified sites in the area show a long, gradual move from the Palaeolithic to Neolithic stage, starting in the 4th millennium BC. The Postglacial culture was not "true" Neolithic in that it farmed but Neolithic in the sense of using pottery. It was actually a Mongoloid hunting-and-fishing culture (except in southern Siberia around the Aral Sea) with a microlithic flint industry with polished-stone blade tools together with antler bone and ivory artifacts; pointed- or round-based pottery and the bow and arrow. Points and scrapers made on flakes of Mousterian aspect and pebble tools showing a survival of the ancient chopper-chopping tool tradition of eastern Asia have also been found. There was a woodworking and quartzite industry and some cattle breeding. The first bronzes of the region are related to the Shang period of northern China and the earliest Ordos bronzes. The area covers the mountainous regions from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean and the taiga (coniferous forest) and tundra of northern Siberia. A first stage is name for the site Isakovo and is known only from a small number of burials in cemeteries. The succeeding Serovo stage is also known mainly from burials with the addition of the compound bow backed with bone plates. The third phase named Kitoi has burials with red ochre and composite fish hooks possibly indicate more fishing. The succeeding Glazkovo phase of the 2nd millennium BC saw the beginnings of metal-using but generally showed continuity in artifact and burial types. Some remains of semi-subterranean dwellings with centrally located hearths occur together with female statuettes in bone.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Aeneolithic, Chalcolithic, Copper Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A period in the Near East and southeastern Europe when copper metallurgy was being adopted by Neolithic cultures, in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. The period is called the Chalcolithic in the Near East and the Copper Age in other areas.
Final Neolithic
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A transition phase where copper and bronze came into use, but stone was still most important.
First Temperate Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term sometimes used to describe the earliest farming cultures in the temperate zone of Europe (and sometimes in other areas). In southeast Europe from c 5400-4500/4300 BC, there was the Starcevo (eastern and northern Yugoslavia), Körös (eastern and southwest Hungary), Cris (west and lowland Rumania), Kremikovci (northwest Bulgaria), and Karanovo (central and southern Bulgaria). The regional groups are differentiated by their individual painted wares, but the group of cultures is unified by non-ceramic traits such a miniature polished bone spoons, fired clay lip-plugs, rod-head figurines, and stamp seals. The vast majority of early FTN sites are located in the major river valleys of the Balkans, either as tell settlements or as short-lived flat sites. Hoe or digging-stick agriculture combined with cattle husbandry was the economic base of most FTN settlements.
Guinea Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A series of industries in the coastal regions of West Africa during the last 10,000 years. Backed microliths akin to those manufactured in earlier times are associated with pottery and with ground stone ax- and hoe-like implements. One of the few well-described and dated occurrences is at Bosumpra near Abetifi in Ghana, where the occupation is dated between the 4th-2nd millennia BC. Because most of these peoples were nonliterate, there are few records up to c 1000 AD, when Arab historians began describing the western African region. By that time, it already had centralized states, agriculture, and long-distance trading routes.
Khartoum Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Industry of Sudan dating to c 5200 BP and characterized by domesticated animals, pottery, and a special adze.
Kintampo Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: An industry of Ghana in West Africa with the first evidence of animal husbandry and food production, and dated to 3600 BP. This savanna woodland and forest margin in the basin of Black Volta River also had ceramics, flaked stone tools, and scored stone rasps that may have been used for grating or grinding.
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: neolithic, New Stone Age
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: The period of prehistory when people began to use ground stone tools, cultivate plants, and domesticate livestock but before the use of metal for tools. It is the technical name for the New Stone Age in the Old World following the Mesolithic. In the Neolithic, villages were established, pottery and weaving appeared, and farming began. The Neolithic began about 8000-7000 BC in the Middle East and about 4000-3000 BC in Europe. It was followed by the Bronze Age, which began about 3500-3000 BC in the Middle East and about 2000-1500 BC in Europe. The criteria for defining the Neolithic has become progressively more difficult to apply as both food production and metalworking took a long time to develop. In Britain the Neolithic has other more specific characteristics: the use of pottery and of ground stone (beside the long-employed flaked stone) and the appearance of construction works like the long barrow causewayed camp and megalithic tomb. Elsewhere however some Mesolithic cultures made use of pottery in Japan for example; and certain so-called pre-pottery Neolithic groups had none as at Jericho. If the term Neolithic is to be retained at all it must be based on the appearance of food production (especially cereal grains) sometimes called the Neolithic revolution commencing in southwest Asia 9000-6000 BC. This might be considered the most important single advance ever made by man since it allowed him to settle permanently in one spot. This in turn encouraged the accumulation of material possessions stimulated trade and by giving a storable surplus of food allowed a larger population and craft specialization. All these were prerequisite to further human progress. The Neolithic was followed by the Mesolithic period the Chalcolithic or the Bronze Age depending on the terminology used in different areas and the nature of the archaeological sequence itself. The Neolithic followed the Paleolithic Period.
Neolithic Revolution
DEFINITION: A term coined by V.G. Childe to describe the origin and consequences of farming - the development of stock raising and agriculture - allowing the widespread development of settled village life (c 9000-6000 BC in Asia). This group of cultural processes marked the transition from an economy based on hunting and gathering to an agricultural economy. These processes were linked with development of village life, the beginning of firing techniques, and production of artifacts such as pottery and weaving.
Pastoral Neolithic
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Pastoral Neolithic of East Africa
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A complex of cultures that appeared in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania about 3500 BC; a general term for the pre-Iron Age food-producing societies of East Africa.. It remains unknown whether they also cultivated plants. The earliest sites are on the plains of northern Kenya and date to the mid-3rd millennium BC. About 1300 years ago, they were absorbed or replaced by iron-using pastoralists and mixed farmers. Disposal of the dead was by burial beneath a stone cairn or between rocks. Stone platters, bowls, and pestles occur on most sites. Settlements show a great range of size, as does the relative importance of herding cattle and small stock in comparison with hunting. Pastoral Neolithic settlement is attested as far to the south as the Serengeti Plain of northern Tanzania. The subdivision of the Pastoral Neolithic in the East African highlands is not clearly defined. Pastoral Neolithic traditions recognized, though not well defined chronologically, are: Elmenteitan, Kansyore, Narosura, Nderit, Njoro River Cave, Oldishi, Olmalenge, and Oltome.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Early phases of the Neolithic of the Near East/Levant, characterized by the practice of agriculture and permanent settlement prior to the use of pottery. Two phases of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic have been identified: the PPNA phase, with radiocarbon dates in the range 8500-7600 BC; and PPNB, dated c 7600-6000 BC. Recent work suggests a third phase, the PPNC, dated to 6200-5900 BC.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Palestinian village-based culture dated 8500-7600 BC, first defined at Jericho. It is derived from the Natufian culture, making use of and developing Natufian architecture (round houses). It offers evidence of first attempts at agriculture in the near East, though still in a hunting context.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Levantine culture pre-dating the use of pottery, dated 7600-6000 BC, and first defined at Jericho. It originated in Syria and is characterized by rectangular buildings with lime-coated or plastered floors, by the cultivation of cereal crops, and by the beginnings of small-animal husbandry. Toward the end, it saw the first expansion of agriculture and the spread of Neolithic culture beyond its semi-arid zone towards the temperature coastal regions of Syria (Ras Shamra) and the desert oases. Pottery began to appear sporadically.
Primary Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term used to describe the earliest British Neolithic cultures, such as the Windmill Hill culture. These cultures were thought to be intrusive early farming groups.
CATEGORY: chronology
DEFINITION: A transitional period between the hunting-and-gathering cultures of the Epipaleolithic and the farming cultures of the Aceramic Neolithic (c 9300-8500 BC). The term is used variously but here it includes the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A of the Levant and the early stages of the adoption of characteristic Neolithic traits such as animal and plant domestication and the manufacture of pottery.
Secondary Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A term used to describe a number of Neolithic communities composed entirely of Mesolithic peoples who adopted Neolithic equipment. For example, in Britain this was a group characterized by the use of Peterborough Ware or Grooved Ware (Rinyo-Clacton Ware). Such groups of Mesolithic ancestry had acquired the arts of farming and associated crafts (like pottery manufacture) from Primary Neolithic groups, e.g. the Windmill Hill culture.
Ténéré Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: Variant of the so-called Saharan Neolithic complex in the Ténéré Dessert and extends from northeastern Niger into western Chad, Africa, dating from 6500-4500 BP. Chipped stone implements include backed microliths, bifacial projectile points, and discoid knives and the pottery may have connections with contemporary Sudanese Nile valley sites. Rock engravings and rock pictures of animals were also created by the Neolithic (8,000-5,000 BC) inhabitants. A pastoral economy existed as well as hunting; the climatic conditions at the time may have dictated the subsistence. Ténéré is now one of the most forbidding regions of the Sahara, with an extremely hot and dry climate and virtually no plant life. Fossils show that this arid desert was, in the Late Carboniferous Period (320-286 million years ago), a seafloor and later became a humid tropical forest. In the Middle Paleolithic (d 60,000 BC) human habitation is indicated in this region by flint axes, arrowheads, and stone artifacts.
Western Neolithic
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A main division of the Early and Middle Neolithic cultures of western Europe; it includes the cultures of Chassey, Cortaillod, Lagozza, Windmill Hill, and the Almerian. The local cultures differ in many ways, but have more in common with each other than with cultures of the other major traditions (Danubian, TRB). This can be seen most clearly in the pottery, which shares simple round-based shapes, stringhole lugs rather than handles, and absence of painted decoration or spiral designs. Some scholars feel that these cultures are only loosely connected and that the term Western Neolithic is not useful.
Western Style Neolithic pottery
SYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Western Neolithic ware
CATEGORY: artifact
DEFINITION: Style of plain or little decorated early and middle Neolithic pottery found in the western parts of the British Isles, especially Ireland. In 1961 Humphrey Case defined Western Neolithic ware pottery as being round-based bowls, normally thin-walled, hard, generally dark-brown, and with a shouldered profile. Four substyles were recognized in Ireland: Dunmurry style; Ballymarlagh style, Limerick style, and the Lyles Hill style. The last mentioned was used by Isobel Smith in 1974 to help define a widespread class of early Neolithic pottery that she called the Grimston-Lyles Hill series; these vessels are now more commonly known as carinated bowls.

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