Offre de thèse : Neolithic lake sites, fossil insects and the spread of agriculture (Edinburgh)

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The Neolithic is associated with the movement of farmers, forest clearance and the introduction of crops and domestic animals from the Near East to Europe, a process which led to intensification of human impact and subsequently to societal change. Much of the discussion centres around the reasons behind the spread of farming and the parameters which constrained the emergence of agropastoral regimes, with climate change and/or cultural choice considered as the main drivers of change. A large body of the palaeoenvironmental research for the Neolithic has been produced from Central and Northern Europe primarily from well preserved peatland deposits, often from early settlements around lakes. This provides insights into the extensive modification of the landscapes surrounding settlements, domestic animals and agricultural activities. The study of fossil insects from Neolithic sites provides evidence about human impact, landscape change and the biogeographic implications as a result of the initiation of agriculture, which led to distinct synanthropic insect assemblages, often characterized by introduced taxa. Although Greece and the Balkans are key areas for understanding the Neolithic, there are few fossil insect studies, partly as a result of semi-arid conditions affecting organic preservation in most areas. From Dispilio, a lakeshore settlement in northern Greece, preliminary research provided the earliest record for a flightless pest of stored products, introduced from the Fertile Crescent, Sitophilus granarius, highlighting the role of storage in the process of neolithisation of the Eastern Mediterranean. Palaeoenvironmental research from deposits from key archaeological sites in northern Greece and north Macedonia as part of the Oxford led ERC project EXPLO has facilitated sampling for insects which will provide an understanding of both natural and man-made environments. The proposed research into well preserved insect assemblages will provide information on impacts on the biota as a result of landscape clearance and farming and data on the process of invasive taxa becoming established. The results from this research will not only aid the reconstruction of the past environments and climatic conditions but will provide insights into current agricultural landscapes, including the use of traditional measures to control insect pests.

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