NeoDyn. Migratory dynamics of early farmers in Europe: the possible key role of salt resources in Neolithization (2019-2021)

15 juillet 2020 par Louise GOMART

Coordinators : Olivier Weller and Jérome Dubouloz (Trajectoires)

Participants : Trajectoires (Robin Brigand, Laurent Aubry, Jean-Paul Demoule, Cyrille Galinand), EVS-Environnement, Ville, Société (Jean-François Berger), LGP (Julien Cavero), Museums of Salt Mines in Wieliczka/Poland (Jan Godlowski), University in Iasi /Romania (Marius Alexianu), Valle Salado de Añana Foundation/Spain (Alberto Plata Montero).

This multidisciplinary project, now financed by the scientific policy of the University of Paris 1 (2019-2021), intends to continue and further develop the actions and exchanges undertaken for several years on Neolithization issues as part of an active cooperation between our UMR and our national and European partners (Labex DynamiTe-UP1 2017-2018, MSH MAE 2017-2018, ANR Obresoc, Franco-German ANR MK).

This project brings together archaeologists, geographers, geomaticians and geomorphologists, and is part of a broader theme concerning mobility, migrations and the consequent economic, social and cultural interactions in the sustainable functioning of the very first agro-pastoral societies. Here, processes of Neolithization are addressed for the LBK society which spread very rapidly throughout the whole of temperate Europe (Linear Ceramic Culture or LBK, 5600-4900 BC) and, by way of comparison, for the Cardial society around the Mediterranean, with the case of the north of the Iberian Peninsula (5600-4500 BC).

Fig. 1 – The main neolithization trends in Europe and several remarkable salt sources (O. Weller 2019 after D. Gronenborn 2018, completed and modified)

Alongside classically used purely agrological criteria, our research is specifically interested in determining the attractiveness of other natural resources, salt resources, in the process of expansion of these first farmers from Austro-Hungarian Transdanubia or from the French Mediterranean coasts. We now know that real poles of attraction and innovation for human communities formed around these salt resources at certain times, such as later with the white gold of Hallstatt, for example. Salt extraction may have made a substantial contribution to the fast pace of initial agricultural expansion (100 to 150 years) towards Poland or western Germany, for example. Therefore, we propose to better characterise these expansion dynamics and arrhythmic territorial colonisation throughout Europe on the basis of expansion rates, occupation densities and settlement forms and stability/instability.

Fig. 2 – GIS and LBK database: topographic and agroecological variables (41 descriptors per LBK site; R. Brigand 2019)

To do so, multiscalar spatial analysis will be carried out at different scales; at the scale of the different regions or workshop zones to that of the entire European area. This will be based on extensive georeferenced databases, most of which have already been compiled (6,500 sites), as well as on the use of geostatistical tools for modelling these different territorial dynamics. Furthermore, in the workshop areas of Poland and Spanish Basque Country, where documentation is particularly conducive to such studies, we will cross-reference these results: on the one hand, with paleo-environmental data to measure the impacts of salt production on the landscape (deforestation for fuel, soil erosion); on the other hand, with the composition of pottery assemblages, to consider the socio-economic functions of salt (food preservation, first cheese factory, etc.), an elusive but irreplaceable product for mixed farming societies.