Modeling the role of voyaging in the coastal spread of the Early Neolithic in the West Mediterranean

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The earliest dates for the West Mediterranean Neolithic indicate that it expanded across 2,500 km in about 300 y. Such a fast spread is held to be mainly due to a demic process driven by dispersal along coastal routes. Here, we model the Neolithic spread in the region by focusing on the role of voyaging to understand better the core elements that produced the observed pattern of dates. We also explore the effect of cultural interaction with Mesolithic populations living along the coast. The simulation study shows that (i) sea travel is required to obtain reasonable predictions, with a minimum sea-travel range of 300 km per generation; (ii) leapfrog coastal dispersals yield the best results (quantitatively and qualitatively); and (iii) interaction with Mesolithic people can assist the spread, but long-range voyaging is still needed to explain the archaeological pattern ​
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