The Greek Early Neolithic: following the ophiolite trail west?

by Edward Pegler on 2 November, 2015

Does the peculiar tendency of the first farmers in Greece to settle near certain bands of ophiolitic rocks hint at the strange fascination Early Neolithic farmers had for copper.

Location of Early Neolithic sites (black dots) and possible Early Neolithic sites (pink dots) in Greece, as well as contemporary sites in neighbouring lands (after Perles, Ruzi, Brami et al) (click to see full image).

Farming first appeared in Greece in the first half of the seventh millennium BC, around the time of the discovery of pottery in Western Eurasia. Although there is much debate, it appears that it spread as part of a seaborne settlement of lands around the Aegean, by migrants from modern day Central Anatolia and, perhaps, the Levant (NOTE 1).

Settlement around the Aegean was not simultaneous. Ulucak in Western Turkey, Knossos in Crete and Franchthi in the Peleponnese were settled by around 6800 BC. By around 6400 BC farming had spread to other parts of Western Turkey, as well as the Greek mainland. Migrants may well have mixed with small local populations to varying degrees to create various hybrid cultures, but probably not everywhere.

Patterns of Greek Early Neolithic Settlement

It has long been known that the distribution of Early Neolithic farming sites across Greece is not uniform. The smaller Greek islands (except the Sporades) show no settlement. Crete’s early settlement may have been abandoned. Euboia is the only island that was extensively settled. On the mainland, sites are almost entirely centred in the east of the country, extending from the easternmost Peloponnese in the south to the massive concentration of sites in the Thessaly Plain in the north, with odd sites further north into Albania.

The limited sites found to the west often show hybrid or variant qualities (e.g. very poor quality pottery and unusual stone tools), perhaps suggesting that farming here was adopted by aboriginal foragers, not migrants. Finally, there is little or no sign of settlement on the Macedonian mainland further northeast. It appears as though most farmers were rather particular about where to settle (NOTE 2).

Greek Early Neolithic sites (black) and possible sites (pink) superimposed on a Greek soil map. Brown and salmon pink areas are those with good soil. Most sites lie on areas of good soil but many areas of good soil have few sites.

There are, of course, differences in the geography and climate of Greece that make some areas preferable for farming. As pointed out by Catherine Perlès, small islands often have intermittent water sources. The west coast may have been too wet for traditional near-eastern farming styles and the north too cold. Understandably farmers would settle in open plains rather than the mountains.

Sites superimposed on rainfall map, showing sites generally located in areas of lower rainfall.

Sites superimposed on rainfall map, showing sites generally located in areas of lower rainfall.

Catherine Perlès argues that rainfall could be a significant factor, which is reasonable. Regardless, some areas were inhabited by Early Neolithic Greek farmers whereas other areas with similar rainfall levels, soils and climate show little or no occupation.

So what’s going on here? Despite the Catherine Perlès’ comment that ‘the pattern seems to be too systematic to be explained by geological factors’ there is a possibility that she is, at least in part, wrong. I want to use one particular kind of rock as an example.


Ophiolites are a strange kind of rock formation; these pieces of ancient ocean floor have been caught in the mangle of colliding landmasses and now rest, boiled and shredded, in mountain ranges north of the eastern Mediterranean. Ophiolites of the Mediterranean are largely the result of stages in the closing of an ancient ocean, the Tethys, during the Cretaceous and Tertiary Periods. The Mediterranean is all that remains of this ocean. These stages were also instrumental in the formation of the mountain ranges which now occur around the Mediterranean, such as the Alps, Carpathians, Atlas and Taurus.

Ophiolites are made of igneous rocks, both intruded as magma and extruded as lava. These rocks are basic and ultrabasic (mafic and ultramafic), which means that they are lack much silica and are often rather heavy. They weather to a dull brown colour, with occasional flashes of dark bluey-green, but are instantly recognisable to a geologist for all that (see here, for example). Geologists like them because of the history they reveal about the Earth and its ancient oceans. Capitalists sometimes like them too as they can contain chromium, platinum and gold.

Distribution of Greek and other nearby ophiolitic rocks (multiple sources). Sites of known Greek VMS mineralisation (dark blue) and PGE mineralisation (white) are also indicated (based on Melfos & Voudouris 2012).

The distribution of the majority of ophiolites in Greece is along the edges of a geological band called the Pelagonian Zone, which runs NNW-SSE across the eastern part of the mainland. This zone represents small landmasses and slices of ocean which were sandwiched together during the closure of the Tethys (NOTE 3).

With some notable exceptions (e.g. parts of the south-eastern Peloponnese), the ophiolites occupy the same band as that inhabited by most of the early Greek Farmers.

Farmers don’t eat ophiolite

The farmers of Early Neolithic Greece did not tend to live on the thin soil of mountains, so naturally didn’t live on ophiolite. They sensibly chose to farm the thick alluvium of the plains instead. However, they were generally close to ophiolitic rocks. It’s true that many of the farming sites are above deeply buried ophiolites, but I doubt that the farmers would have known or cared.

Distribution of ophiolites compared to EN sites.

Faults at the edge of the plains would have exposed shattered fault-faces of ophiolitic rocks. These appear to have been the source for pieces of serpentinite, a relatively soft, green metamorphic rock. Farmers made small axes out of this, which may have been prized, but are only useful for light cutting jobs (or murder).

Other rocks, often derived from further away, were used for harder cutting edges. Perhaps the most valued of these cutting edges was obsidian, which came from apparently uninhabited volcanic Aegean islands such as Melos. As such, a rock’s usefulness for tools doesn’t seem to control settlement patterns.

Speculation – ophiolites and minerals

At this point I want to make a huge leap from data to conjecture.

Cyprus also includes significant ophiolite rocks, generated at the boundary of the African and Eurasian Plates. The ophiolites of Cyprus are, at present, mined for chromium. However, historically, they were mined for copper ores. This is also true for the ophiolites of of the Bitlis-Zagros Suture Zone (BZSZ) in south-eastern Turkey, defining the boundary between the Arabian and Eurasian continental plates. Both of these areas were  centres of occupation for Early Neolithic farming communities during the Pre-pottery Neolithic B, shortly before the settlement of Greece.

Ophiolite distribution in the Eastern Mediterranean, with the location of Cayonu/Ergani marked in red. The Bitlis-Zagros Suture zone runs through here and toward Cyprus.

Ophiolite distribution in the Eastern Mediterranean, with the location of Cayonu/Ergani marked in red. The Bitlis-Zagros Suture zone runs through here and toward Cyprus.

Greek ophiolites show the same mineralisation patterns as those in Cyprus. They contain small quantities of copper, chromium and other rare elements, locked up as sulphides and oxide minerals, either in ‘Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide (VMS)’ or ‘Magmatic Ni-Cu PGE (Nickel-Copper, Platinum Group Element)’ type ores. Strabo’ miracles aside, they are not, and historically never were, economically workable for either chromium or copper ores. (NOTE 4).

This is all, arguably, irrelevant. The archaeological evidence strongly suggests that techniques for the extraction of metals such as copper from the oxides and sulphides in these rocks (by smelting) would not be invented for more than a thousand years after the time that we’re discussing. In fact, copper artefacts are unknown from Greece before the fifth millennium BC.

However, people of the Early Neolithic still knew about copper. Despite the fact that not one artefact of copper has ever been found in Early Neolithic Greece (or Cyprus, for that matter), I reckon that those farmers still knew about copper. Native copper.

‘Supergene’ processes and native copper

Within the top few metres of the land surface (the supergene zone) metallic ores, exposed to air and rain water, can experience oxidation, leaching and enrichment. In the case of copper ores this often produces small concentrations of copper metal (native copper) within cracks in the rock.

Such surface rocks are thought to be the source of the oldest copper artefacts known, those from Çayönü Tepesi in south-eastern Turkey, dated to around 8200 BC, over two thousand years before the Greek Neolithic. Based on trace elements within these copper artefacts (e.g. occasionally high arsenic levels), this copper is generally thought to be derived from the Ergani Maden (Kızıldağ) mining region, a short distance to the north of Çayönü. The host rock is ophiolite (part of the above mentioned BZSZ).

I say that these copper artefacts are ‘thought to be’ derived from Ergani Maden (and there is some debate) because there is no evidence of this early mining. Perhaps this is because Ergani is now a hole in the ground. The evidence of early mining is always rare if other miners came afterward, clearing away the earlier diggings to dig deeper. Perhaps it is because early sources of copper were derived not from the host rocks themselves but from streams which eroded similar host rocks to the west of Ergani Maden.

(I should add here that there would have been no particular reason for ancient peoples not to collect gold as well as native copper from streams or out of rocks. However, there is even less evidence for that, so I won’t push that).

Discussion – we need more evidence

So is it possible that ophiolites, with their dull brown, dusty look, could have been sought out by early farmers as being associated with native copper? If this is so, was Cyprus also first settled by farmers in the ninth millennium BC for the same reason? Did running out of native copper cause Cyprus’ disconnection from the world around 7000 BC? Did this have a knock on effect on the Pre-pottery Neolithic cultures of the mainland?

This essay cannot be conclusive. Too much evidence is missing. There are clearly problems with some areas, such as the Peleponnese, where settlements occur away from ophiolite (this is also true for the Bosphorus region in NW Turkey). Obviously, the lack of a single copper (or gold, for that matter) artefact from Early Neolithic Greece seems damning.

If artefacts of native copper ever turned up either Early Neolithic Greece (7000 to 6000BC) that would help. Personally, I suspect that it’s unlikely, but not necessarily because the ideas above are wrong. As for native copper artefacts turning up in Early Neolithic Cyprus (around 8200 to 7500BC) I still wait and hope.


P.S. Long ago, in the early days of writing this blog, I wrote a post comparing the distribution of historically mined copper ores in Europe to the locations of early Neolithic settlement. The post was just based on a few published maps, no-one took much notice and I soon forgot about the idea. Two major problems with it were that the first farmers in Europe, those of Greece, settled in an area with no copper mines and that northern Turkey, which has extensive copper deposits

But certain things kept bringing the idea back. The first was the discovery that the coast of north Africa only has copper ores in the far west, the only place where there is any evidence of Early Neolithic farming settlement. The second is that copper-rich Cyprus had a much earlier Neolithic than once thought, fully as old as that of Anatolia, but that this Neolithic went downhill.

It was for that reason that I looked at Greece again. I’m still not convinced, but I think that I’m groping around the edges of a real story.


1) The settlement of Greece from Cyprus seems unlikely. This is because Cyprus appears to have been without Cattle by the time of settlement of Greece (early to mid seventh millennium BC), whereas cattle are present in the fauna introduced into both Crete and mainland Greece.

2) To add a further complication to this, radiocarbon dating of sites around the Aegean is patchy and the pottery is surprisingly undiagnostic.

3) There are tiny, scattered fragments of ophiolite throughout the Aegean, most of which are shown on the map. Many of these are metamorphosed to almost unrecognisability. Other, even smaller fragments occur in ancient melanges, ancient massive debris flows, preserved within the Pelagonian and other zones. The variability of published maps in showing these fragments is understandable.

4) Copper has been worked from Greek mines in prehistory, largely from Crete, the Cyclades and Lavrion. However, I think that these may be skarn deposits, associated with limestone and metamorphism, and I suspect that they would not have been worked or noticed until much later.


Adamides, N.G. 2010 Mafic-dominated volcanogenic sulphide deposits in the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus Part 2 – A review of genetic models and guides for exploration, Applied Earth Science 119, p193-204.

Highlights two known mines, Mangaleni and Skouriotissa (Phoenix) as currently showing native copper in their supergene zones.

Akinci, 2009 Ophiolite-hosted Copper and Gold Deposits of Southeastern Turkey: Formation and Relationship with Seafloor Hydrothermal Processes, Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences 18, p475-509.

Discussing the VMS deposits of the Ergani-Maden mine.

Bakhuizen, S.C. & Kreulen, R. 1976 Etymology of the name Chalcis, In: Chalcis in Euboea: Iron and Chalcidians Abroad, Brill, p58-64.

Bamba, T. 1974 Ophiolite and related Copper Deposits of the Ergani Mining District, Southeastern Turkey, p36-50+

Brami, M.H. & Heyd, V. 2011 The origins of Europe’s first farmers: The role of Hacılar and Western Anatolia, fifty years on. Praehistoriche Zeitschrift 86, p165–206.

A more traditional view of arrows spreading culture across Anatolia to the Aegean.

Bunguri, A. 2014 Different models for the Neolithisation of Albania, Documenta Praehistorica 41, p79-94.

Çilingiroğlu, Ç & Çakırlar, C. 2013 Towards configuring the neolithisation of Aegean Turkey, Documenta Praehistorica 40, p21-29.

Hejl, E. et al. 2000 Young Neogene tectonics and relief development fission-track dating
on the Aegean islands of Naxos, Paros and los (Cyclades, Greece), Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geologischen Gesellschaft 93, 105-127.

Lichter, C. 2005 Western Anatolia in the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic: the actual state of research, In: How did farming reach Europe? (Lichter, C. ed.) BYZAS 2, p59–74.

Melfos, V. & Voudouris, P.C. 2012 Geological, Mineralogical and Geochemical Aspects for Critical and Rare Metals in Greece, Minerals 2, p300-317.

Mining Atlas (online resource) – e.g. for Turkey

Perlès, C. 2001 The Early Neolithic in Greece : the First Farmers in Europe, Cambridge, pp356.

An excellent introduction, carefully thought out and well written, discussing the relationship of EN Greek farmers with foragers as well as farmers to the north and in Anatolia and the Middle East. A little out of date now but the main source of information for this post.

Perlès, C. et al. 2011 Melian obsidian in NW Turkey: Evidence for early Neolithic trade, Journal of Field Archaeology 36, p42-49.

Perlès, C. et al. 2013 Early Seventh-Millennium AMS Dates from Domestic Seeds in the Initial Neolithic at Franchthi Cave (Argolid, Greece), Antiquity 87, p1001-1015.

Reingruber, A. 2011 Early Neolithic settlement patterns and exchange networks in the Aegean, Documenta Praehistorica 38, p291-305.

Argues, based on Thissen’s dating, for strong influence of Foragers on the Earliest Neolithic.

Reingruber, A. & Thissen, L. 2009 Depending on 14C Data: Chronological frameworks in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic of Southeastern Europe, Radiocarbon 51, p751–770.

Questions the traditional dating for the Peleponnese Early Neolithic, putting it back a few hundred years, but see Perlès et al. 2013.

Ruzi, E. 201X Investigating Compositional Variability among Early Neolithic Ceramics from Korça Region, Albania, Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology, pp15.

Swiss world atlas version 1.0.1 – image of Aegean rainfall patterns.

Thissen, L. 2011 The Neolithic–Chalcolithic sequence in the SW Anatolian Lakes Region, Documenta Praehistorica 37, p269-282.

Yigit, O. 2009 Mineral Deposits of Turkey in Relation to Tethyan Metallogeny: Implications for Future Mineral Exploration, Economic Geology 104, p19-51. (image from this)

Ophiolite maps of Greece – are all slightly inconsistent. The maps used here are composites from a large number of sources, including this and this.



{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Maju November 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm

I fail to see any obvious relation between ophiolites and early Neolithic. Actually the bulk of settlement (Thessaly) is not on top of ophiolites but just (accidentally?) surrounded by them.

But let’s assume for a moment that the hypothesis has some merit, I can think of another reason why copper ores could be (unknowingly?) useful to early farmers: copper is a good fungicide and is still used often in gardening and farming. If, as it’s likely, the waters falling from those mountains carried copper, they would have helped with farming, even if the farmers themselves didn’t know what was going on, only the results. This may be complementary to the strategy of settling low rainfall areas, which are better for cereal cultivation (rice excepted, of course), which you also mention. As they moved to the Northwest, early farmers naturally faced challenges of this kind owing to climate, and while the plants do often adapt after more or less time, the best strategy to begin with is always to choose the lands where they work optimally within the range of those available.

I’ve noticed in photos that some ophiolites are greenish (oxidized copper usually is) and I wonder if this might be another reason, as green was apparently a favored color in Neolithic Palestine, notably in jewelry, and also later in various places, as is the case of the semi-precious variscite stone, vaguely similar to turquoise but greener, very popular in the European Neolithic and Chalcolithic.


Edward Pegler November 3, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Dear Maju

Fair enough. It may simply be rainfall and good soil and, as you say, it could simply be accidentally surrounded by ophiolite. This is a speculative piece.

As you say, green (as well a blue) semi-precious stones were coveted by Neolithic and later peoples. I certainly don’t think that Greece would be a first choice for anyone looking for these. As for copper enriched rivers, too many of the settlements are not on rivers draining ophiolite. However, the soils may be copper enriched from Tertiary erosion events.


ohwilleke November 6, 2015 at 3:06 am

For what it is worth, I was scrolling down to the comments ready to advance a very similar hypothesis as the one advanced by Maju when I saw his comment.

Trace amounts of environmental copper are not only fungicides but antibacterial agents, and in an age when infectious diseases were rampant and people were just starting to face the diseases associated with farming and herding, trace amounts of environmental copper could have reduced infection rates and increased life expectancies above a critical threshold for fragile, primitive farming methods sufficient to give communities an edge in selective fitness relative to farming hamlets elsewhere. This doesn’t require the existence of archaeological relics made of copper which have not been discovered at this time.

The effect is would be something of a natural analog to the modern practices of including floride in municipal water supplies, or iodine in table salt.


Edward Pegler November 9, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Both comments (yours and Maju’s) noted with some interest which I think needs further research.

However, such fungicides are compounds of copper, such as sulphate and hydroxide, which, at least in theory, could occur in association with any rocks containing copper (not just ophiolite), as long as the eH-ph conditions were met near the surface. These might also be disseminated extensively through rocks in low concentrations which are more suited to modern mining techniques but would not be of interest to ancient miners. The major occurrences in Greece of rocks containing extensive copper in low concentrations are from the Macedonia region. This should, therefore, have been a better place to settle based on fungicidal effects.

Also, any advantages in fungicidal properties do not seem to have prevented the collapse of the Cypriot farming economy in the seventh millennium BC.

I don’t really know why I’m defending my own idea as it seems pretty far-fetched, but I don’t think that a ‘copper as fungicide’ model could save it either.

Thanks anyway



Maju November 10, 2015 at 2:07 am

… “could occur in association with any rocks containing copper (not just ophiolite)”…

Of course. But there is no study about all those other copper rocks, so… what can we say.

Anyhow I already said that I failed to see any clear association between ophiolites and Neolithic settlement, that it can well be a mere confounding factor or even wishful-thinking on the side of the author. The relationship is not demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.

For example I’m looking right now at a map of ancient copper mines in Iberia, which probably correspond to places where copper minerals are close to the surface. In some cases they correspond with places of early intense Neolithic settlement (Northern Alicante province for instance) but in other cases they do not (Asturias for instance), while other cases of early Neolithic major development like Southern Portugal have very few ancient copper mines. A problem is that copper is a common element and is almost everywhere (while iron is even more abundant, the real mineral problem of the Bronze Age was availability of tin, never copper). So IMO it looks like a fluke and I would not support the main hypothesis unless clear evidence is produced.

Edward Pegler November 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Dear Maju

I’m glad I piqued your interest enough to look.

Greece’s main current copper interests are in epithermal and porphyry coppers of the Macedonian and Thracian coasts (Melfos and Voudouris 2012 in the references). You can see the maps there.

As for Iberia, William O’Brien’s recent book ‘Prehistoric Copper Mines in Europe’ talks about ancient potential for mining here and, for what it’s worth, highlights the extensive evidence of early copper mining (only bronze age, mind) across southern Portugal (from Hunt Ortiz 2003, Prehistoric Mining and Metallurgy in the South-west Iberian Peninsula).

As for your point about the abundance and ubiquity of copper, copper’s occurrences in Europe are MAINLY associated with the closure of the Tethys, so, by definition, tend to cluster around the Mediterranean. There are, as you say, quite a lot of them, but they are not everywhere. For example, they are only extensively present on the North-side, not the south.

Furthermore, copper occurrences of interest to ancient peoples would have been limited to the surface zone in areas of high and very localised concentration. This is not the same as now, where modern ore deposits are low grade and extensive. Trying to use a modern map of copper occurrence does not give a good guide as to their mining potential in ancient times.

Having said all this, perhaps the most important thing at the moment is the total lack of evidence for Neolithic copper mines themselves. None. The earliest evidence is (rarely) Chalcolithic and mostly Bronze Age. So I don’t think anyone’s going to believe this post anyway… except perhaps me on an optimistic day.


Maju November 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm

The Iberian map I used (cite: Blance, B. ‘The Argaric Bronze Age in Iberia’, Rev. de Guimaräes, 1964) refers to Bronze Age mines, both copper and tin, but it is rather old, so I will take your word about new discoveries.

Anyhow the question is: is there really any sort of objective, measurable correlation between copper ores and early Neolithic settlement or is just a coincidence. I lean for the latter without excluding the possibility of pesticide-like properties of copper (dissolved in the water table) having helped somewhat.


Edward Pegler November 13, 2015 at 6:28 pm

Dear Maju

The answer to the question is ‘I don’t know’. If a proper academic wanted to do a statistical test involving proximity of settlement to workable copper ore concentration then that would be useful. However, two factors make this difficult – 1) Geological and archaeological survey hasn’t delimited the exact positions of small orebodies because they are not that interesting to modern prospectors and, more importantly, they were often removed in antiquity due to having metal resources in them. 2) The nature of ancient trade means that not all settlements need to be near sources.

As said before, the settlements of the Bosphorus/Sea of Marmara region, which are of the same date as those in Greece, are nowhere near any metal sources. However, quite a few of them are strategically located, just as later Constantinople was, and they also show the earliest signs of dairy use. You may be able to work that into any theory of fungicidal control.

As for fungicidal properties of copper, it is important to re-emphasise that this is copper ions, part of copper compounds, as these can be dissolved in water. Therefore any test of the different theories (if there were any merit in either), would need to consider the distribution of settlements compared to likely discharge areas of copper-containing source rocks.

To back up your theory, copper salts work better as fungicides in drier areas.



Maju November 13, 2015 at 7:02 pm

So you think that the old home-made fungicidal method of pinning naked copper wires in the plant (tomatoes most often), or even around it, is wrong? I made a search and it seems that the most recommended method seems to require regular spraying with very diluted hydrogen peroxide, which I guess oxidizes the copper a bit faster than natural exposure but otherwise I’d expect water, at least running water, to also oxidize the copper quite fast. Cuprous oxide is actually used as fungicide:


Edward Pegler November 14, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Dear Maju

To be honest I don’t know much about copper as a plant fungicide or growth promoter, apart from what I (like you?) am rapidly learning from wiki-world and other places. I do take your point about copper oxide though. Surely that’s covalently bonded so would not be soluble in water. To extend this point, apparently copper minerals are not generally in soluble form in soils as they bind to clay minerals. Also, higher pH, such as in lime rich soil, tends to reduce the amounts of copper available naturally to plants.

As you were asking about copper in soils and its effects on plants, and were taking a broader view of the whole of the Mediterranean you might want to look at slide 13 on this page:

This map is undoubtedly complicated by the localised contamination of soils near big cities, notably in northern Europe. However, I think that the effects would be swamped further south in locations with greater natural copper concentrations. The map is by no means perfect. Sampling may miss concentrations or vice versa. Greece is shown to have relatively high concentrations of copper across the whole Peleponnese, in the Pindos and in parts (though not all) of the north. Iberia is most interesting, from your point of view, in the Portuguese west coast where parts show deficiency in soil copper.


Maju November 15, 2015 at 6:56 am

I used to be a gardener more than a decade ago, so I did know something from the beginning (and that’s why I raised the issue). However I had to check because I had never personally experimented with the copper wire method, so I was unsure about its details. I have learned something too: oxidation!

The map is quite interesting: although it does not explain anything about Neolithic settlement on its own and there may well be important differences with what could be a similar map 7000 years ago, it still shows that water-diluted copper is quite common, not just in Greece but also in Italy, Languedoc, parts of the Balcans, etc.

“… in the Portuguese west coast where parts show deficiency in soil copper”.

The Iberian case is strange, because surface copper was apparently very common in the Bronze Age, but may have been depleted by centuries of mining (Iberia was one of the first mining colonies on Earth: a mineral mecca of the ancient world). As for Portugal the Neolithic settlement corresponds more intensely to the Southern half, although for the little aDNA we know of (Chandler 2005) it could well be largely continuous with the Epipaleolithic peoples, unlike in other regions.

Anyhow, they were not growing tomatoes (the most fungus-susceptible crop) back then but they may have found copper-rich soils to be better against, say, rye’s ergot and other fungal issues. Yet this would be more important in wetter climates than in the better fit Mediterranean basin. So I don’t think I can say much more on this matter. It seems to be an open case.


Edward Pegler November 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm

Dear Maju

You’re definitely one up on me. My garden is only a source of confusion and disorder.

I must admit that I don’t understand the map. The quantity of volcanic rocks does, I believe decrease from east to west. As you say, surface erosion could change soil cover, but this applies equally to both Greece and Iberia. One factor could be local volcanic activity producing copper-enriched dust. This would apply in Italy and southern Greece, though less so in Bulgaria.


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