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the cultural period that lasted in SW Asia from about 9000 to 6000 bc and in Europe from about 4000 to 2400 bc and was characterized by primitive crop growing and stock rearing and the use of polished stone and flint tools and weapons



(or the New Stone Age), the latest period of the Stone Age (seeSTONE AGE), characterized by the exclusive use of flint, bone, and stone implements (including those made by grinding, boring, and polishing) and, as a rule, by the widespread distribution of clay pottery. The implements of the Neolithic period represent the concluding stage in the development of stone tools, which were gradually replaced by metal articles.

Based on cultural and economic features, the Neolithic cultures break down into two groups: (1) cultivators and stock raisers and (2) advanced hunters and fishermen.

The first group reflects the consequences of the transition to a fundamentally new form of obtaining food—food production. The new food-producing economy brought about major changes in society, reflected primarily in the development of a settled way of life and a sharp increase in population (the first demographic explosion). Thus, numerous investigators, in the tradition of the British archaeologist V. G. Childe, speak of the “Neolithic Revolution” as the first economic revolution in the history of humanity. The bourgeois literature tends to deny the importance of this turning point and to reduce all development to nothing but gradual quantitative changes in the course of simple evolution.

In the Old World, the most ancient farming cultures in the Middle East, according to the latest findings, date to the eight and seventh millennia B.C. (Jericho in Jordan, Jarmo in northern Iraq, Ali Kosh in southwestern Iran, and Çatalhüyük in southern Turkey). Clay pottery is often absent in these cultures, and for this reason they are regarded as Proto-Neolithic, or Prepottery Neolithic. Such cultures had permanent settlements with pisé houses, sometimes built on stone foundations; encircling walls (Jericho); sanctuaries, often richly decorated with reliefs and frescoes (Çatalhüyük); clay figurines of humans and animals; and various ornaments, including necklaces, bracelets, and pendants. The flat-bottomed painted pottery that appeared in the Neolithic cultures of the Middle East reached its peak in the period when metal articles were first produced (Hassunan and Halafian cultures). Similar Neolithic cultures in southern Middle Asia are represented by Dzheitun (sixth millennium B.C.) and in the Transcaucasus by Shomutepe and Shulaveri (fifth and fourth millennia B.C.). The farming Neolithic in China dates to the fourth or third millennia B.C. (Yangshao).

In Europe, Neolithic farming cultures first appeared in Macedonia at the end of the seventh millennium B.C. (Nea Nicomedia) and then spread between the sixth and fourth millennia B.C. to the Balkans and Central Europe (Starčevo, Karanovo, Vinča, and Körös; the Linear Pottery cultures). The Bug-Dnestr culture in the southern USSR is related to this group and is known from excavations at Soroki and other sites. These cultures were characterized by settlements consisting primarily of surface frame dwellings, by flat-bottomed pottery elaborately decorated with painted and scratched ornamentation, and by diverse anthropomorphic plastic arts.

The Neolithic cultures of advanced hunters and fishermen were widespread in northern Europe, in the forest-steppe and forest zones of Eastern Europe, and in Siberia. Their economies were based on hunting with the bow combined with various forms of fishing. The population in these regions was sparser than in the zone of the farming Neolithic. The hunter-fisher cultures were typified by semisubterranean dwellings, temporary settlements, and round-bottomed and pointed-bottomed clay vessels (the Eastern European cultures characterized by pottery decorated with pit and comb impressions, the Kel’teminar culture in Middle Asia and Kazakhstan, the Neolithic cultures of the Ob’ River basin and Yakutia). In certain areas, intensive fishing sometimes led to the adoption of a settled way of life (the Baikal, Amur, and Primor’e regions); in Japan it also resulted in the early appearance of pottery (tenth to eighth millennia B.C.). The Neolithic Jomon cultures of Japan (eighth millennium to the middle of the first millennium B.C.), which were based on fishing, hunting, and gathering the “gifts of the sea,” were characterized by a high level of development, fine pottery, and anthropomorphic terra-cotta art; there were also signs of social differentiation. In the sixth millennium B.C. pottery also appeared in Southeast Asia (the Cave of the Spirits in Thailand), where the gathering of plants was widely practiced, evidently because of the need to cook food. However, only the farming Neolithic provided the proper conditions for overall progress and development, and it was precisely in the zone where the farming Neolithic was widespread that the most ancient class formations and states arose.

There are two groups of Neolithic cultures in the New World: (1) hunters and fishermen and (2) cultivators. In Peru the latter date to the fifth to second millennia B.C. (Chilca, Huaca Prieta, Guañape). In Mesoamerica, according to archaeological periodization, we may classify the Mayan civilization as Neolithic, since metal articles became common among the Mayans only in the ninth century A.D.


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Masson, V. M. Poselenie Dzheitun (Problema stanovleniia proizvodiashchei ekonomiki). Leningrad, 1971. (Materialy i issledovaniia po arkheologii SSSR, no. 180.)
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Müller-Karpe, H. Handbuch der Vorgeschichte, vol. 2: Jungsteinzeit [part 1]; Text [part 2]. Munich, 1968.
Tringham, R. Hunters, Fishers, and Farmers of Eastern Europe. London, 1971.



The period of prehistoric culture in which people made some of their stone tools by grinding the edges to create smooth surfaces; frequently defined as the time interval following the Paleolithic, beginning about 11,000-8000 years ago.
References in periodicals archive ?
Probably that was not always a rule, but this type of settlement location was certainly preferred by prehistoric people before the Middle Neolithic when long segments of lake coastlines lacking any inflows were used for dwelling sites and amber workshops.
Furthermore, little data had been obtained about the miners at GaviL The permanent settlement that must have existed near the mines has not been located, which is unremarkable considering that in the whole of north-eastern Iberia very little evidence of permanent Middle Neolithic settlement has been found, compared with the large number of known burial sites.
The ceramics found at the Meskaartty site and other typologically elusive organic-tempered ceramics found in Kymenlaakso Province might indicate closer contacts than previously thought between the northern and southern coasts of the Gulf of Finland during the Middle Neolithic.
More than 300 middle Neolithic sites have been recorded across Taiwan (Tsang 1990, Li 2003), characterised by: red-slipped and fine cord-marked pottery; polished stone knives, axes, sickles and adzes; nephrite (jade) production; and larger settlements with increasingly dense populations.
The unearthed amber pendants (AI 3960: 265, 266) are highly crafted artefacts and similar artefacts have been produced in most of the Middle Neolithic amber working centres (Ots 2006, 29).
Period Date range Mesolithic (8850-5100 BC) M1 Pioneering stage 8850-8000 BC M2 Ancylus Mesolithic 8000-6800 BC M3 Litorina Mesolithic 6800-5100 BC Neolithic (5100-1900/1800 BC) N1 Early Neolithic 5100M000 BC N2 Middle Neolithic 4000-3200 BC N3 Late Neolithic 3200-1900/1800 BC
Most of the other finds can similarly be attributed to the Middle Neolithic period.
Correspondence Analysis was carried out on a dataset that included all early and middle Neolithic site phases, each domestic taxon and a combined 'wild' category, comprising the four wild taxa (roe deer, red deer, wild boar and aurochs).
5900/5800 to 5400 cal BC represent the Middle Neolithic period, as defined in the Greek Aegean relative chronology.
The rhyton scom Danilo: structure and symbolism of a Middle Neolithic cult-vessel, xx+212 pages, 40 colour & b&w plates.
While around a third of the volume deals with post-Neolithic activity, the rest deals with a rare phenomenon: the relatively well-preserved traces of Middle Neolithic settlement, dating to the second half of the fourth millennium BC.
After 2200 BC, carbonised rice or grain impressions in pottery are reported from many Middle Neolithic settlements in Taiwan, such as Chikan B on Penghu Island (Tsang 1999), Kending at the southern tip of Taiwan (Li 1985), Youxianfang in Tainan (Tsang et al.