Archaeologists are investigating islands around Britain in an attempt to settle debate about why the isles’ hunter-gatherers converted to farming about 6,000 years ago. The issue is whether the change was due to colonists moving into Britain or if the indigenous population adopted an agricultural lifestyle themselves.
According to the Independent:
The experts will be excavating three island groups in the western seaways ~ the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and the Outer Hebrides ~ to understand what sailing across this area would have been like in 4,000 BC.
Fraser Sturt, from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, said: "How people changed from hunter-gatherers to agricultural lifestyles is one of the big questions in archaeology. We know that the first signs of domestication occurred in the Middle East around 10,000 BC and reached France by 5,000 BC. However, it appears to be another 1,000 years before Neolithic farming activities reached Britain."
"We are investigating why this happened by looking at changing social practices, possible environmental impacts and the nature of maritime technology and communication."
Recent discovery of French pottery in Scotland suggests that colonization from the continent is a possible explanation for the shift. Studies show that the first colonists are likely to have travelled across the western seaways, but there has been very little excavation of the islands to prove this theory.
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