2.5.1 People Europe

0 Contents 2 Background 2.5 Societal 

Migration 2.5.3

2.5.2 Wider View

1 First Mediterraneans
2 Mediterraneans
3 Near Eastern Neolithic
4 Megaliths
5 Pottery
6 Secondary Products
7 Millet
8 Wine
9 Metal
10 Steppe horsemen

Original Reference Source Wider view created by Jean Manco 18 June 2011. Last edited 18-06-2011


Europe in its setting

Although often discussed as though it were a separate continent, Europe is but a part of the great land mass of Eurasia. The first humans entered Europe from Western Asia. Throughout prehistory wave after wave of innovation and ideas swept into Europe from the Near East. Ex oriente lux (light comes from the east) has come to refer not just to the rising sun, but to cultural and even religious enlightenment. The Hellenistic era is generally seen as the period at which innovation within Europe and expansion out of it began, with the conquests of Alexander the Great, but not until the Industrial Revolution did Europe become a power-house, economic and military, which dominated the globe.

So much is common knowledge. The essays in this section focus on new discoveries giving us a fresh perspective. Since writing began in the cities of Mesopotamia and art was also advanced there, the first indisputable image or written record of an innovation often appears there. Many innovations were therefore credited to Mesopotamia which now seem to belong rather to the hilly flanks of the Fertile Crescent, the Eurasian steppe or even further afield. Pottery appeared in the Far East and Africa long before it was made in the Near East. Pottery reached Europe first from the steppe. Agriculture began along the great curve of the Taurus and Zagros Mountains. Metal-working too began in the hills that provided the ore. Gold was first worked in the Balkans.Horses were domesticated on the steppe and donkeys in North Africa. Wheeled vehicles were probably first made in the European steppe/forest zone. Light spoke-wheel chariots appeared first on the West Asian steppe. Wine was first produced on the southern slopes of the Caucasus, where grapes grew wild. Dairy farming, as opposed to herding cows primarily for meat (with occasional milking), first appeared around the Sea of Marmara - on both the European and Anatolian coasts. Wool sheep may have been first bred in the Caucasus, where the earliest surviving woollen textile has been discovered.

Gold figure of a bull, c. 2500 BC, 
from Maikop Burial Mound, North Caucasus (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia)
Many of these innovations were spread east along the steppe corridor as far as North West China and westward into Europe with Indo-European-speaking peoples. Their European spread belongs in the Peopling of Europe section, but in this section the focus is on the movement across the steppe. The Indo-European migrants form just a part of the long story of the nomads of the steppe. From the east came the Turkic tribes, the Huns and the Mongols, who all had an impact on Europe.

The countries bordering the Mediterranean of Southern Europe, North Africa and the Levant have much in common. The links across the Mediterranean are discussed, starting with the first Mediterraneans, an early lineage ofhomo sapiens only recently coming into clearer focus.

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