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Book: Mediterranean Resilience

Chapter: The Maritime Neolithic: An Evaluation of Marine Adaptation in Eastern Mediterranean Prehistory

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41499


In eastern Mediterranean prehistory the earliest known exploitation of marine resources dates to the Paleolithic, while the emergence of distinct maritime adaptation and intensified use of marine resources corresponds with the development of sedentary lifeways and agricultural economies in the Neolithic. However, the extent of maritime adaptation and its role throughout the Neolithic requires further investigation. The aim of this paper is to address this issue by presenting a synthesis of published archaeological sites ranging from the Epipaleolithic to the Late Neolithic to analyze variation in prehistoric marine adaptation from across the eastern Mediterranean, including the southern and northern Levant, Cyprus, and Anatolia. This allows us to conceptualize the “maritime Neolithic” on a regional scale. Through analysis of the material cultural indicators of maritime adaptation identified in prehistoric contexts, it is possible to move toward the characterization of the use of marine resources at different sites, ranging from limited use of aquatic resources to intensive fishing economies. The analysis of these sites in a broader context indicates variation in the role of marine resources in subsistence economies on a regional scale and highlights the potential for further investigation.

Chapter Contributors

  • Chelsea Wiseman ([email protected] - cwiseman) 'Flinders University and the University of Haifa'