There are two broad models for the spread of agriculture, or indeed any culture: migration and diffusion. The former implies the conquest or displacement of pre-existing hunter-gatherers, the latter their conversion to the new methods by interaction or emulation. The archaeological evidence suggests a more rapid process occurred in the Mediterranean hinterlands, probably through colonization. The move north into the continental interior (except in the Balkans) was more gradual, suggesting cultural assimilation. The earliest confirmed agricultural site is in eastern Greece, dating back 9,000 years. The world’s earliest proven copper metallurgy has been found in modern Serbia, with the earliest saltworks on the shores of the Black Sea. Here, dating back 6000 years ago, the Cucuteni culture had settlements of over 20,000 inhabitants, supported by mixed arable crops sown with bone ploughs and harvested with flint scythes. At the same time, fully developed arable farming appears – suddenly – in Iberia, suggesting colonization, perhaps from North Africa.
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