III.1. Neolithic package

In the Anatolian plateau, full farming villages developed ca. 7500–7000 BC, at the same time as pottery. Around 7000–6400 BC, the full Neolithic package conquers the western part of Anatolia and the Greek region, reaching Crete ca. 7000 BC (in aceramic version), Thessaly ca. 6500 BC, and western Greece ca. 6400 BC, indicating a rapid diffusion process. Around 6500 BC, the majority of settlements in the Anatolian plateau were abandoned: new settlements appeared on trade routes, which suggests a trend to control long-distance exchange networks, which is also evidenced by the intensified contacts between regions seen in material culture and in the exchange of ideas (Özbaşaran 2011). This coincides with another pause in the expansion of Neolithic pottery lasting two to three centuries.

The rapid expansion of Neolithic farmers has been put in relation with changes in climate (ca. 6600–6000 BC), although the increase of intergroup violence associated with environmental and economic stress show only some variation in intensity (to profit from a weakened adversary), but do not correlate with all evidence of conflict. Instead, the true reason for emerging warfare is probably associated with the new essential aspect of territoriality for the economically superior (and demographically expanding) farming societies, and thus conflicts arise from either politically motivated expansion, or from political power imbalances, which may in turn be associated with drought, epidemics, or as a consequence of climatic stress (Clare and Weninger 2016).

The succeeding episodes of population growth and sudden collapse identified in the expansion of Neolithic farmers suggest that they correspond to the demographic signature of travelling waves (and not travelling wave-fronts, proper of classic demic diffusion, where the population of previously occupied territories is kept at carrying capacity after the wave-front passes through them). That is, the ‘boom’ is associated with the arrival of new people, whilst the ‘bust’ should be understood as outgoing migrants resuming their spread into a new region. Only the regions being passed by the travelling wave experience a noticeable demographic pressure, while the meta-population follows a neutral growth curve (Silva and Vander Linden 2018).

The Neolithic package covers a whole series of technical innovations that accompany the domestication of plants and animals, like ceramics and polished stone, changes in dynamics of territorial occupation and exploitation, organisation of domestic areas and forms of social production, social dynamics and reproduction. Settlements are variable depending on the geographical area, but they generally consist of traits signalling a more permanent occupation compared to foragers, such as domestic areas that include houses, grain storage, graves, hearths, and ovens. Tools and materials suggest that settlements are also areas of production and consumption (Guilaine 2017).

iii.1. Aegean farmers

Signs of the Neolithic package appear only after ca. 7000 BC in west Anatolia and the Aegean. Studies of human ancestry support the arrival Anatolian farmers into central and western Europe with the Neolithic expansion (Brandt et al. 2013; Olalde et al. 2015; Szecsenyi-Nagy et al. 2017), also signalled by an expansion of hg. G2a2-CTS4367 (formed ca. 15800, TMRCA ca. 14900 BC), found first in Anatolian Aceramic (ca. 8000 BC), and in most Anatolian Neolithic individuals spanning the whole 7th millennium BC.

Consistent with a migration to the west, north Aegean Neolithic individuals ca. 6350 BC from Barcın (north-west Anatolia) and Revenia (northern Greece) share the closest genetic relationship with central Anatolian Neolithic individuals from Boncuklu (Pre-Pottery Neolithic) and Tepecik (Pottery Neolithic), closer than these central Anatolian groups among each other, and a closer relationship than Anatolian Neolithic samples with Iran Neolithic farmers, Natufians, and WHG (Kılınç et al. 2017).

The contribution of Iran Neolithic ancestry and their close affinity with Levantines may be explained by a contribution from a similar Anatolian Neolithic group, close to the central samples studied from Boncuklu and Tepecik, receiving more of the known previous Middle Eastern gene flows, especially Iran Neolithic contributions from the east; the closer relationship of Aegean individuals with WHG points to the survival in Aegean populations of the ancestral AME cline formed between WHG–AHG (see §I.3. Epipalaeolithic).

This ancestral AME cline does not allow us to fully discard an initial hypothetical out-of-the-Aegean model, or a Neolithisation driven by coastal and interior interaction networks connecting populations through the Aegean and the Levant. Nevertheless, later samples from north-western Anatolia (Kumtepe ca. 5000 BC) and south Greece (Franchti Cave and Diros, ca. 4000 BC) lack noticeable WHG-like ancestry, which suggests that Neolithic migration waves fully replaced the local population (Kılınç et al. 2017), a fact that points to similar demographic dynamics in the previous centuries.