The current paradigm-changing ancient DNA revolution is offering unparalleled insights into central problems within archaeology relating to the movement of populations and individuals, patterns of descent, relationships and aspects of identity – at many scales and of many different kinds. The impact of recent ancient DNA results can be seen particularly clearly in studies of the European Neolithic, the subject of contributions presented in this volume. We now have new evidence for the movement and mixture of people at the start of the Neolithic, as farming spread from the east, and at its end, when the first metals as well as novel styles of pottery and burial practices arrived in the Chalcolithic. In addition, there has been a wealth of new data to inform complex questions of identities and relationships. The terms of archaeological debate for this period have been permanently altered, leaving us with many issues.
This volume stems from the online day conference of the Neolithic Studies Group held in November 2021, which aimed to bring geneticists and archaeologists together in the same forum, and to enable critical but constructive inter-disciplinary debate about key themes arising from the application of advanced ancient DNA analysis to the study of the European Neolithic. The resulting papers gathered here are by both geneticists and archaeologists. Individually, they form a series of significant, up-to-date, period and regional syntheses of various manifestations of the Neolithic across the Near East and Europe, including particularly Britain and Ireland. Together, they offer wide-ranging reflections on the progress of ancient DNA studies, and on their future reach and character.
Foreword List of contributors
1. Introduction: questions of descent, relationships and identity Alasdair Whittle and Joshua Pollard 2. Living with archaeogenetics: three decades on Martin B. Richards 3. Five challenges for an integrated archaeogenetic paradigm Kristian Kristiansen 4. Ancient genomics methodology and genetic insularity in Neolithic Europe Bruno Ariano and Daniel G. Bradley 5. Reconstructing the genealogical relationships of hunter-gatherers and farmers Leo Speidel 6. Ancient DNA of Near Eastern Neolithic populations: the knowns and the unknowns Eva Fernández-Domínguez 7. Farmer-forager interactions in the Iron Gates: new insights and new dilemmas Maxime N. Brami and Yoan Diekmann 8. A glance at Early Neolithic south-east and central Europe — as reflected by archaeological and archaeogenetic data Eszter Bánffy 9. Ancestry and identity in the Balkans and the Carpathian basin between the 5th and 3rd millennia cal BC Bianca Preda-Bălănică and Yoan Diekmann 10. The genetics of the inhabitants of Neolithic Britain: a review Selina Brace and Tom Booth 11. Islands apart? Genomic perspectives on the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Ireland Lara Cassidy 12. aDNA and modelling the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Britain and Ireland Alison Sheridan and Alasdair Whittle 13. Looking back, looking forward — humanity beyond biology Susan Greaney
Alasdair Whittle is an emeritus research professor in archaeology at Cardiff University. He has worked extensively across Britain and Europe, specialising in the study of the Neolithic.
Dr. Susan Greaney is Senior Properties Historian for English Heritage, based in Bristol. She completed her PhD on Neolithic monument complexes in Britain and Ireland in 2022. Her main research interests are monuments, power relations and society in the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, as well as the public presentation of heritage and archaeology.
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