French introduced farming to Britain: study

(PhysOrg.com) -- Simon Fraser University archeologists Mark Collard and Kevan Edinborough and colleagues from University College London have uncovered evidence that French farmers introduced agriculture to Britain some 60 centuries ago.

The researchers note that without the civilizing influence of their Gallic neighbours, the Brits might have continued running around with spears for hundreds of years more instead of cultivating plants and animals.

Their work, published in the most recent Journal of Archeological Science, contradicts previous theories that indigenous British hunter-gatherers developed farming independently.

The archeologists studied carbon-14 dates for bones, wood and grains from about 6,000 years ago at locations throughout Great Britain and determined that the population of the island more than quadrupled in just 400 years.

“We also found evidence that this increase occurred first in southern and shortly afterwards in central Scotland,” says Collard, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in human evolutionary studies.

“These findings are best explained by groups of from the Continent independently colonizing England and Scotland,” most likely from Brittany in northwest France.

“The case for believing that the Neolithic transition in Britain was mediated by a large influx of farmers from continental Europe is compelling,” the authors conclude.

“The migrants’ arrival resulted in sudden and dramatic economic, demographic and social change that seems to have led to a ‘boom-to-bust’ cycle lasting 600-700 years, with the initial rapid rise in population followed by an equally rapid decline, heralding the very different cultural patterns of the later Neolithic (period).”

More information: evidence indicates that migrants introduced farming to Britain, Journal of Archaeological Science, doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.11.016

Provided by Simon Fraser University


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Citation: French introduced farming to Britain: study (2009, December 8) retrieved 21 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-12-french-farming-britain.html
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Dec 08, 2009
No one said France was a country 6000 years ago. The author is talking about a geographical area, that's all.

Dec 09, 2009
Britain went by the name of Alba until eleven centuries BCE, and was still known by that name in Arabia until the last century. This is like saying that the North American Indians are from Washington, Canada, Alaska or Russia. Those geographical areas need to be referred to by their names at the period in question, or at least "the land that later became known as ... "

Dec 15, 2009
Velanarris: Statistics on car repairs and DMV inspection failures are published at least in several European countries. Usually Japanese and German cars are found the most reliable.

Dec 21, 2009
The tone of this article makes it sound as if hunter gatherers were stupid and along came some people who civilised them. Hunter gatherers managed for millions of years just fine. Why people adopted farming isn't certain, probably a steady access to food but it brought a lot of problems with it, disease being one of them. We might have been better off not adopting farming and running around with spears. Just look at the state of the world today.

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