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Apr 16, 2012

Albania - Location Site One of Europe's Earliest Farming Sites Dating From 6,500 BC

Archaeological dig at Vashtëmi, Albania
Photo: University of Cincinnati
On 20 April 2012 the University of Cincinnati and the Southern Albania Neolithic Archaeological Project (SANAP) presented their most recent findings on one of Europe's oldest known farming communities to the Society for American Archaeology (SAA).  These reveal that Vashtëmi, located in southeastern Albania, was occupied around 6,500 BC.  It was located near wetland edges providing evidence that Europe's earliest farmers selected the site so that they could be near a resource-rich environment.

Vashtëmi is an example of a pioneer farming village. Farmers were migrating to Europe from the Middle East and agriculture was practiced on a small-scale.  The site has provided examples of cereal-based agriculture including emmer, einkorn, and barley, as well as animals such as pigs, cattle and sheep or goats, deer, wild pig, rabbit, turtle, several species of fish and eels.   Farmers relied on both domesticated and wild resources for their food.

Research at the site has been conducted by the University of Department of Anthropology and SANAP.  Dr. Sue Allen collaborates with SANAP co-director Ilirjan Gjipali of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology.

Although several early neolithic sites were excavated in Albania during the 1970s and 1980s, in general the country was closed to outside collaborations and methodologies under communist leader Enver Hoxha.  This precluded the use of new technologies such as environmental archaeology and radiocarbon dating.  Since the fall of communism in 1989, there has been greater international colloboration.  SANAP is a prime example of this.  Dr. Allen's research Albania has been funded by a 2010 grant from the National Science Foundation.

For more see: "One of Earliest Farming Sites in Europe Discovered," ScienceDaily, 16 April 2012.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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