The Neolithic vs. the Mesolithic in Southern Poland: Is Everything Known Yet? Nowak et al.
The Neolithic vs. the Mesolithic in Southern Poland: Is Everything Known Yet?
Marek Nowak, Mirosław Zając, Justyna Zakrzeńska
According to a common belief, southern Poland was a typical area of Early Neolithic settlements which was rarely exploited and even ignored by Mesolithic communities. However, the prehistoric reality was more complex. Indeed, the zones largely omitted by the hunter-gatherers were fertile loess uplands and foothills settled by the first Neolithic farmers (Linear Band Pottery culture) in the third quarter of the 6th millennium BC. However, such ecological zones are by no means the only or even predominant zones within the territory in question. Areas with other ecological conditions, mainly those close to the Polish Lowland, yielded surprisingly numerous remains of Mesolithic settlements, including late Mesolithic ones. Radiocarbon data makes it clear that the Late Mesolithic communities coexisted with their Neolithic counterparts. However, the temporal dimension of this coexistence remains a debatable and controversial issue. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that the late hunter-gatherers would use ‘their own’ pottery also in southern Poland. Similarly to many other European regions, the anthropological and historical interpretations that describe and explain the interactions between early farmers and late hunter-gatherers in southern Poland (as well as archaeologically discernible transformations within the latter group) are difficult to construct. It is even more difficult to assess the role played by hunter-gatherers in the neolithisation of this territory. This paper presents and analyses the relevant chronological, chorological, settlement, and typological data. As a result, the hypothesis that the hunter-gatherer communities were but ‘passive’ witnesses to the first neolithisation and functioned independently at least throughout the entire Neolithic period was considered most probable.
Certain late Mesolithic populations underwent [Funnel] ‘Beaker’ acculturation, but some continued to function in undisturbed form (including the para-Neolithic form), at least until the end of the 3rd millennium BC.