The Mesolithic–Neolithic Transition on the Channel Islands: Adopting Agriculture in an emerging Island Landscape

David Bukach

An examination of how and why Channel Island society adopted agriculture is aided in this paper by an island-based approach, which stresses the social and environmental implications of island life. This paper proposes a two-stage model of neolithisation of indigenous island hunter-gathers, beginning with a phase of cooperative interaction between forager and farmer in the early stages of the transition, followed by a later phase of direct competition for island resources. A rapid shift from cooperative to competitive interaction is proposed, amplified by constraints of island biogeography, sea-level change and insularity. Islanders were ‘pulled’ toward a Neolithic world view through increased exchange, while environmental conditions and limitations on the islands ‘pushed’ indigenous island hunter-gatherers to adopt agriculture.