Drawing diffusion patterns of Neolithic agriculture in Anatolia

Burhan Ulaş*, Shahal Abbo, Avi Gopher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The data distribution for plant domestication in the various parts of Anatolia is uneven and quite scarce or altogether missing for large tracts of the region. The Southeastern Taurus region and Central Anatolia provide a relatively good Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) archaeobotanical record, which is also the case, to a certain degree, for Central Anatolia. The rest of present-day Turkey, e.g., the northeast region, Cilicia, the Lake District and major parts of western Anatolia (the Black Sea, Mediterranean coast and Marmara regions) provide mostly Pottery Neolithic (PN) archaeobotanical data. The PN sites in these regions appear to represent Neolithic “pioneer” communities that established new sites based on an agricultural economy, of which none predate the second half of the 8th millennium cal. BC. Evidently, domesticated plants that first appeared in the Southeastern Taurus region ca. 8500 cal. BC spread rapidly to western Syria, Cyprus and Central Anatolia a couple of hundreds of years later (still within the second half of the 9th millennium cal. BC). It took another millennium for domesticates and agriculture to reach western Anatolia. While the growing intensity of Neolithic research throughout Turkey (western Turkey included) in recent years may change the picture, for now, based on the available data, this is the emerging pattern and it deserves thought. Based on evidence from a range of relevant disciplines (geobotany, archaeobotany, agronomy, genetics, archaeology and ethnobotany) we support a “rapid” model for plant domestication in Anatolia (as opposed to the “protracted” model). We reconstruct the diffusion of domesticates and the new economy in Turkey and into Europe via maritime routes and through the inland “Anatolian Corridor.” We offer itinerant farming craftsmen (“expert harvesters”) as a possible mechanism in the diffusion of agricultural products during the Neolithic.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number105057
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

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  • Anatolia
  • Archaeobotany
  • Autonomous model
  • Core area model
  • Craftsmanship
  • Diffusion
  • Neolithic agriculture
  • Plant domestication
  • Protracted model
  • Rapid (one event) model


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