The Aegean Mesolithic: material culture, chronology, and networks of contact
Małgorzata Kaczanowska & Janusz K. Kozłowski Eurasian Prehistory 11 (1-2) (2014): 31-62
Contacts across the sea between/with the Aegean islands are evidenced as early as in the Middle Palaeolithic.Aegean islands were visited also in the Upper Palaeolithic, probably during the LGM. At the beginning of the Holocene there is evidence for more intensive Early Mesolithic presence at the Aegean island. These assemblages derived from two different cultural traditions: the Balkan Epigravettian that dominates the eastern continental Greece, and from the Antalyan – the entity typical of the Epigravettian tradition of western Anatolia. The tradition represented in the Mesolithic layers of Klissoura and Franchthi caves evolved on the substratum of the local Epigravettian and it displays some stylistic influences from the western Mediterranean (Sauveterroid and later possibly Castelnoidal traits). The presence of the Early Holocene foragers on the Aegean islands – first the Cyclades (Kythnos, Naxos), the Northern Sporades (eg., Cyclops Cave on the island of Gioura), and the islands of the south-east of the Aegean (Ikaria, Chalki) was the result of several visits from the continent and the contacts between the islands from the first half of 9th millennium cal BC (Maroulas on Kythnos, Kerame on Ikaria).
The evolution of the Mesolithic on the Aegean islands lasted until the beginning of the 7th millennium cal BC as indicated by radiometric determinations for the younger Mesolithic layers in Cyclope Cave. The groups of the Aegean Mesolithic must have been able to navigate across considerable distances arriving at the site of Nissi Beach on Cyprus (investigations by A. Ammerman) where the pebble-flake industry shows several features common with their origins. Thus the consequence of contacts with the Initial Pre-ceramic Neolithic on Cyprus the economy and architecture of the Aegean Mesolithic changed (e.g., Maroulas on Kythnos) supporting the observation concerning distant seafaring. Moreover, the analysis of an assemblage from aceramic layer X from Knossos on Crete (dated at the transition of 8th/7th millennium cal BC) shows a number of techno-morphological the presence of Melian obsidian in common with the Aegean Mesolithic.
On the other hand, the Epipalaeolithic sites in the northern part of the Aegean Basin, notably the island of Lemnos exhibit close techno-morphological associations with the Early Holocene Epipalaeolithic industries of south-western Anatolia, especially with the Antalyan. Investigations of the Aegean Mesolithic revealed the existence of broad networks of contacts across the entire Eastern Mediterranean during the period from the beginning of 9th through the transition of the 8th/7th millennium cal BC, the period preceding the establishments of the full “Neolithic package” in the Aegean.