The physical environment in Northern Greece at the advent of the Neolithic
Myrsini Gkouma & Panagiotis Karkanas Quaternary International 496 (2018): 14-23
The transition from the Late Pleistocene to the Early Holocene in the Eastern Mediterranean is marked by an abrupt change in sea levels, landforms, ecology and resources. These new geomorphological conditions favored the formation of attractive environmental settings for the early farmers, having at the same time a significant taphonomic impact on the archaeological record of the Late Pleistocene. During the Early Holocene, on the other hand, the abrupt climatic 8.2 ka event has been recorded as a period of hyperaridity in Anatolia and the Levant, associated with pronounced cultural discontinuities. At the same time, increasing humidity and cooling is documented in central Europe, while seasonality and variability characterizes the intermediate zones, whose magnitude and spatial expression are not yet fully understood. This article reviews the geomorphological configuration and palaeoclimatic records of the Late Pleistocene–Holocene transition in Northern Greece, a key location for understanding the pathways of neolithization in Europe. With its fragmentary Early Neolithic record, Northern Greece demonstrates significant geomorphological modifications during the Pleistocene–Holocene transition, while being part of the transitional climatic zone in the 8.2 ka event. The landscape configuration is described, emphasizing the role of wetlands as significant locales for the onset of agriculture, while the environmental–cultural interaction in the first centuries of the neolithization is discussed, combining the paleoenvironmental, stratigraphical and chronological evidence for the first farmers and last hunter-gatherers.