Presentation Open Access
The Mesolithic-Neolithic settlements in the Danube Gorges (North-Central Balkans) flourished in a specific landscape, with rapid changes in the riverbed, whirlpools, cataracts and strong river currents. These features were particularly favourable for fishing, and led to the prolonged stay of human communities during the Mesolithic (ca. 9500-6200 cal BC) and the emergence of permanent
settlements in the Transformational Mesolithic-Neolithic phase (ca. 6200-5900 cal BC). Even with the appearance of domestic animals after 6000 cal BC, these settlements remained in use primarily as fishing centres, suggesting that subsistence strategies in the Danube Gorges remained unchanged even after the appearance of the first farming and stock breeding communities. Apart from the Danube Gorges, these ‘new’ communities settled in strikingly different landscapes – the hilly terrain of the Central Balkans and the flat terrain of the Pannonian plain, more suitable for farming and animal herding. However, the spatial clustering of Early Neolithic sites in the vicinity of rivers and lakes, as well as the occurrence of fish remains, signal that fishing occupied a significant role at least at some locations. The paper explores the role and extent of aquatic resource exploitation at the advent of food production, both in the Danube Gorges area where fishing represented a long local tradition, and in the newly established Neolithic sites in the Pannonian plain. The aim of this study, as well as future analyses of Early Neolithic faunal assemblages, is to problematise the presumed dichotomy between Mesolithic and Early Neolithic subsistence strategies, and the relationship between economic practices and particular landscapes.