New 14C evidence for the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age transition in Southeast Europe

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Yannis Maniatis *
Zoï Tsirtsoni
Christine Oberlin
Pascal Darcque
Chaido Koukouli-Chryssanthaki
Dimitra Malamidou
Tasos Siros
Miltos Miteletsis
Stratis Papadopoulos
Bernd Kromer
(*) Corresponding Author:
Yannis Maniatis | maniatis@ims.demokritos.gr

Abstract

The transition from the Late Neolithic (LN) period (locally also called Final Neolithic or Chalcolithic) to the Early Bronze Age (EBA) in Greece and the Southeast Balkans is an obscure period in human history. Previous radiocarbon evidence showed that in settlements with stratigraphical sequences stretching out on both periods, the absolute dates featured a gap ranging from 700 to 1000 years (roughly between 4000 and 3300/3000 cal. BC). On the other hand, there is only scarce evidence about settlements that would have been founded during the missing period, thus arising questions of paramount importance about the human occupational strategies in this period. Investigation tackling this particular problem is carried out within the framework of a broader research project (Balkans-4000) funded by the French National Research Agency (ANR). Here we discuss the latest radiocarbon results from three recently excavated multilayer settlements on the continental Greek Eastern Macedonia: Dikili Tash, Kryoneri and Sidirokastro. In all cases, the existing LN radiocarbon dates do not go beyond about 4000 BC, whereas the earliest EBA layer dates begin at around 3300 BC. A date in the last 1/3rd of the 4th millennium BC is also the date suggested for the one-layer transitional settlement on the neighbouring island of Thasos (Aghios Ioannis). The fact that the gap affects settlements of different types and locations, although there are no signs of major environmental changes, suggests that the reasons of their possible total or partial abandonment are more likely to be social than strictly environmental.

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