B. Milić and R. Graf – experimental knapping (left), obsidian blade produced with standing pressure by R. Graf (right), MAMUZ, Asparn an der Zaya (Photo: M. Pacher)

“Modelling the Neolithic – Origins of lithic technologies in the 7th millennium BC western Anatolia and the Aegean” is a Pilot Postdoctoral research with the aim to trace routes of the Neolithic spread, starting around 11,000 years ago, based on lithic data, using pressure technique for blade making as the marker.

This project investigates lithic technologies from the Neolithic period in western Anatolia and the Aegean in order to document the pressure technique through the published data. The references for the application of certain modes used for blade production are drawn from the possible centres of origin of pressure technique in the region of Upper Mesopotamia, which refers to southeast Anatolia, northern Syria and northern Iraq. The integration of already analysed lithic assemblages from Çukuriçi Höyük in 7th millennium BC are explored here as starting key studies, whereas the research expands on numerous Neolithic sites in wider regions towards east and west. The proportion of different raw materials, with a focus on the presence and amount of obsidian and distance from the source, will be integrated in the project. The geo-chronological framework of this study is the region of Upper Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Aegean and Balkans within the time span from around 10th until 6th millennium BC, yet the focus lies in the western regions in the 7th millennium BC. The connectivity in the Aegean and models of Neolithisation in the broader region will help understanding the directions proposed for the transfer of lithic technology, based on the pressure technique.

Pressure blades made of obsidian and chert from Neolithic Çukuriçi Höyük (© ERC Prehistoric Anatolia, N. Gail)

The study will be following the data based on presences and absences of pressure technique in archaeological sites with a strong correlation with the radiocarbon dates. Comparison studies are available due to the relative and absolute chronology and features of lithic technology related to pressure technique.

The research question of how lithic technology can determine the direction of the Neolithisation in western Anatolia and the Aegean combines approaches in archaeology and modelling, with the hypotheses on the demographic and cultural processes shaping the spatiotemporal distribution of the modes of pressure technique used in blade production. The range of modelling techniques will be employed, among which the main ones will be Generalised Linear Models (GLMs) and Bayesian network analysis (Neapolitan 2004). Finally, the Phylogenetic Comparative Method (Freckleton et al. 2002) will be used to estimate parameters of the mode and tempo of pressure techniques development using a range of hypothesized phylogenetic relationships of early Anatolian farming populations, based on other material culture data.