February 25, 2023: Climate Change and Migrating Farmers: The Spread of Agriculture to Southern Europe

Andrew Moore, PhD, Past President of the Archaeologial Instute of America & Rochester Institute of Technology (retired)

Free to the public

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Farming spread from its center of origin in western Asia to southern Europe at the beginning of the Holocene. This phenomenon has prompted many questions. Why did farming spread when it did? Who brought it to southern Europe, and by what means? Migrant farmers from western Asia reached the Aegean before 9,000 cal BP (c. 7,000 BC). Then there was a pause that lasted a millennium. The onward spread of farming took this new economy rapidly inland to the Danube Basin, and westward to the Adriatic and beyond. The westward dispersal took place along the coasts; the only reasonable explanation is that it was carried forward by migrating farmers looking for new lands to settle, an hypothesis supported by the latest ADNA evidence. The question then is, why did they leave the Aegean for the Adriatic and beyond so suddenly? Results from the “Early Farming in Dalmatia Project” are providing answers to these questions. Recent research has focused on the impact of a sudden reversal of climate, the “8,200 cal BP event”. During this episode the climate of the early Holocene became cold and dry. This phase lasted about 300 years, or 10 human generations, enough to disrupt the existing farming economy in the Aegean and over a much wider area. It caused some of these farmers to leave their homeland in search of fresh lands to colonize. It was these migrants who brought farming to the Adriatic and beyond.


Andrew Moore’s archaeological interests span the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Europe. His research has concentrated on the advent of agriculture and sedentary life in the Middle East and their spread to Africa and Eurasia. Moore has conducted field research in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Croatia and other countries.

In the 1970s Moore excavated Abu Hureyra in the Euphrates Valley in Syria, a site threatened by the construction of a new dam. The site was significant because it documented the transition from foraging to farming around 13,000 years ago, much earlier than had been suspected. Research on the record from this key site continues.

Moore is currently investigating the spread of farming around the Mediterranean and into southern Europe. Moore has excavated two Neolithic villages, Danilo and Pokrovnik, on the Croatian coast and has conducted extensive landscape surveys of the surrounding region. The project has demonstrated that agriculture reached the Adriatic region as a mature mixed farming system brought in from farther east by migrating farmers around 8,000 years ago.

Moore has taught archaeology at the University of Arizona and Yale University. Moore has spent two decades in academic administration, as Associate Dean in the Graduate School at Yale, and latterly as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, then Dean of Graduate Studies, at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). He is currently Professor and Dean Emeritus at RIT, and an Honorary President of the Archaeological Institute of America, the largest and oldest archaeological organization in North America.

Moore’s publications include Village on the Euphrates (with G.C. Hillman and A.J. Legge, Oxford University Press 2000) and Early Farming in Dalmatia (with Marko Menđušić, Archaeopress 2019). His degrees are from the University of Oxford (B.A., M.A., D.Phil.) and the University of London (Dip.Arch.).

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