Rhythms of Stability and Change in the Central Mediterranean


This paper explores changing patterns of isolation in prehistoric island societies, and their ongoing connections with the wider world. The case study is the expansion of agriculture in Southern Europe in the 6th millennium BC, and subsequent landscape and cultural evolution in the Maltese archipelago. This was a series of maritime events, establishing connectivity between Mediterranean islands whose inhabitants’ ‘Neolithic package’ lifeway permitted high-density settlements in small islands. In Malta, where unique Neolithic art and architecture ultimately flourished, farming was established by 5500 BC, and some enduring stability ensued. But there was limited continuity—sudden change occurs in the archaeological record of various timeframes, as do phases of potential abandonment—although these are difficult to resolve using archaeological data alone. Palaeoenvironmental evidence is therefore used to fill the gaps. Indeed, AMS 14C dating has revealed that episodic rhythms of stability and change were commonplace in prehistory. The timing and magnitude of these events in Malta are explored in this paper, revealing an island world whose cultural responses to the challenges of prehistoric life were predicated on the archipelago’s unique intersection of isolation, size, and available resources.

Cite this Record

Rhythms of Stability and Change in the Central Mediterranean. Rowan McLaughlin, Katrin Fenech, Rory Flood, Michelle Farrell, Ronika Power. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431408)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15100