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      Symbols in motion: Flexible cultural boundaries and the fast spread of the Neolithic in the western Mediterranean


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          The rapid diffusion of farming technologies in the western Mediterranean raises questions about the mechanisms that drove the development of intensive contact networks and circulation routes between incoming Neolithic communities. Using a statistical method to analyze a brand-new set of cultural and chronological data, we document the large-scale processes that led to variations between Mediterranean archaeological cultures, and micro-scale processes responsible for the transmission of cultural practices within farming communities. The analysis of two symbolic productions, pottery decorations and personal ornaments, shed light on the complex interactions developed by Early Neolithic farmers in the western Mediterranean area. Pottery decoration diversity correlates with local processes of circulation and exchange, resulting in the emergence and the persistence of stylistic and symbolic boundaries between groups, while personal ornaments reflect extensive networks and the high level of mobility of Early Neolithic farmers. The two symbolic productions express different degrees of cultural interaction that may have facilitated the successful and rapid expansion of early farming societies in the western Mediterranean.

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          Most cited references77

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              Understanding the genetic structure of the European population is important, not only from a historical perspective, but also for the appropriate design and interpretation of genetic epidemiological studies. Previous population genetic analyses with autosomal markers in Europe either had a wide geographic but narrow genomic coverage [1, 2], or vice versa [3-6]. We therefore investigated Affymetrix GeneChip 500K genotype data from 2,514 individuals belonging to 23 different subpopulations, widely spread over Europe. Although we found only a low level of genetic differentiation between subpopulations, the existing differences were characterized by a strong continent-wide correlation between geographic and genetic distance. Furthermore, mean heterozygosity was larger, and mean linkage disequilibrium smaller, in southern as compared to northern Europe. Both parameters clearly showed a clinal distribution that provided evidence for a spatial continuity of genetic diversity in Europe. Our comprehensive genetic data are thus compatible with expectations based upon European population history, including the hypotheses of a south-north expansion and/or a larger effective population size in southern than in northern Europe. By including the widely used CEPH from Utah (CEU) samples into our analysis, we could show that these individuals represent northern and western Europeans reasonably well, thereby confirming their assumed regional ancestry.

                Author and article information

                Role: ConceptualizationRole: Data curationRole: Formal analysisRole: InvestigationRole: MethodologyRole: ResourcesRole: SoftwareRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – original draftRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: Funding acquisitionRole: Project administrationRole: ResourcesRole: SupervisionRole: ValidationRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Data curationRole: ResourcesRole: VisualizationRole: Writing – review & editing
                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                1 May 2018
                : 13
                : 5
                [1 ] CNRS, UMR 5199 –PACEA, Université de Bordeaux, Bâtiment, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, Pessac, France
                [2 ] CNRS, UMR 5608 –TRACES, Université Toulouse–Jean Jaurès, Maison de la Recherche, 5, allées Antonio-Machado, Toulouse Cedex 9, France
                [3 ] Arcadia-Fundación General de la Universidad de Valladolid FUNGE-UVa, Valladolid, Spain
                New York State Museum, UNITED STATES
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                © 2018 Rigaud et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 1, Pages: 18
                Funded by: funder-id http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100001665, Agence Nationale de la Recherche;
                Award ID: ANR-13-CULT-0001-01
                Award Recipient :
                This analysis was supported by the French National Research Agency, project ANR-13-CULT-0001-01.
                Research Article
                Social Sciences
                Social Sciences
                Biology and Life Sciences
                Earth Sciences
                Human Geography
                Cultural Geography
                Social Sciences
                Human Geography
                Cultural Geography
                Earth Sciences
                Geologic Time
                Stone Age
                Neolithic Period
                People and Places
                Geographical Locations
                People and Places
                Population Groupings
                Agricultural Workers
                Social Sciences
                Archaeological Dating
                Radioactive Carbon Dating
                Research and Analysis Methods
                Chemical Characterization
                Isotope Analysis
                Radioactive Carbon Dating
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                All relevant data are within the paper and its Supporting Information files.



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