‘It’s still the same old story’: the current southern Transdanubian approach to the Neolithisation process of central Europe

Krisztian Oross*, Lucy J E Cramp, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The pivotal role of the western Carpathian basin in the transmission of key inventions of food production towards central Europe is an accepted fact in Neolithic research. Southern Transdanubia in western Hungary may serve as a unique ‘laboratory’ for targeted investigations, as north Balkan and central European characteristics overlap in the region. Site-based studies of recently excavated late 6th millennium cal BC Neolithic settlements provide insights into possible patterns in the development of longhouse architecture and settlement layout, different combinations of material culture and their alterations, and technology transfer on a regional scale. In order to gain a more complex view of these themes, three micro-regions have been selected around key sites for further study of different vantage points between Lake Balaton and the Dráva/Drava river. The southernmost one is located in the Southern Baranya Hills, the second along the Danube on the northern fringes of the Tolna Sárköz and in the adjacent section of the Sárvíz valley, while the third lies in the central section of the southern shore of Lake Balaton. Field surveys including the systematic collection of surface finds complemented by geomagnetic prospections can contribute significantly to the reconstruction of settlement clusters. Absolute chronology has become an important research focus due to larger sets of radiocarbon dates interpreted within a Bayesian framework. The two dominant scenarios for the start of the westward expansion of the LBK are hard to harmonise with each other. An approach that estimates the beginning of the process around 5500 cal BC at the latest gains support from a west-central European perspective. In contrast, recent radiocarbon dating programmes with formal modelling of AMS series within a Bayesian framework estimate the appearance of the LBK west of the Carpathian basin hardly before 5350–5300 cal BC. The latter view provides the potential of harmonising the Neolithisation of central Europe with the emergence of the Vinča culture, at least in its northernmost region. Beyond this debate, ancient DNA analyses have enriched the discussions on migration, demic diffusion and the scale of hunter-gatherer contribution to the process with fresh arguments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-178
Number of pages25
JournalQuaternary International
Early online date27 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jul 2020


  • western Hungary
  • Neolithisation process
  • micro-regional research
  • geomagnetic survey
  • absolute chronology
  • aDNA

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