With the move away from a research perspective focused exclusively on the Near East and ancient Europe, and towards the inclusion of other parts of the world - a move that the DAI made decades ago - it became clear that theories based on various Neolithization waves originating from the Fertile Crescent are not applicable everywhere. Other cultural centres where at least some of the characteristics of an early agrarian mode of subsistence came into being may be observed in East Asia, in the central Sahara, South America and elsewhere and appear in some cases to have commenced at a similarly early date; however, a workable chronology still has to be devised if a comparative assessment of the phenomenon is to be undertaken on a global scale.
The recent excavations at Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Anatolia, revealing sacred monumental architecture in a locality where foraging still predominates, have provided new impulses for research into the establishment of communities and the beginnings of agricultural production; and these impulses have in turn thrown up a number of new questions concerning the transition from hunter-gatherer communities to farming cultures. By contrast, pottery manufacture, still unknown in Göbekli Tepe, appears in the forested areas of north-eastern Europe, which however lack firmly established settlements and a productive mode of economy. In the areas inland from the Moroccan coast, originally sedentary groups appear to return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. These few examples demonstrate that the beginnings of sedentariness and the emergence of a productive mode of economy did not always coincide, and indeed that the development could lead in contrary directions. Even in those areas of the Near East and south and central Europe which display fully Neolithic culture early on, the process was more complex than many have assumed thus far.
New research results from DAI activities in various parts of the Old World show that the term 'Neolithic', when too strictly applied, does not do justice to the actual developments associated with sedentarization. If we also consider archaeological findings from the New World, the dilemma becomes even clearer. For example, on the coasts of North and South America permanent settlements emerged at an early date as a consequence of plentiful food resources, but there is no indication of farming and ceramic production at those sites. In the Andes region, town-like settlements existed with monumental architecture but without any kind of pottery. This might call to mind developments exemplified by Göbekli Tepe, but in fact the two phenomena have little in common. In any event to evaluate these processes from the viewpoint of Neolithization in its Old World sense, that is, from the standpoint of economic innovations, especially farming and animal husbandry, would be to limit one's perspective very appreciably.
The decisive and momentous step taken by human society in highly diverse natural and cultural environments and in conditions that differed greatly, too, was the development of sedentary communities, which in many instances in fact preceded the transition from a foraging mode of economy to a productive one. The sedentary way of life ushered in new forms of living together, which ruptured existing social structures and brought new ones into being, as may be discerned from types of settlement and from various indications of social hierarchies, division of labour, etc. In terms of research, concentrating on the process whereby permanent settlements came about has the advantage that the object of investigation becomes easier to ascertain in the archaeological find assemblages and thereby easier to compare in the global perspective. Once early settlements have been located, the factors which were of crucial importance for their emergence may be investigated in a targeted manner. Comparative research will presumably reveal that sedentarization took place in the most varied of circumstances, with availability of food, access to resources, specificities of location, climatic conditions and much more being of equal importance. And yet irrespective of the given natural and cultural environment, the change that underlies sedentarization was nowhere static, but rather thoroughly dynamic and led in due course to the emergence of complex societies.
The need to undertake a comparative analysis of the general circumstances of sedentarization in the highly diverse natural and cultural environments of the Old and New World - the primary aim of this research cluster - is acute, and thanks to new scientific approaches it might also enliven the debate about the beginnings of the Neolithic in the Near East and ancient Europe and contribute to a critical re-evaluation of existing models and hypotheses. This is the only way of arriving at an enhanced understanding of the matter. A number of excavations conducted by the DAI in various parts of the Old and New World are looking into similar questions and hence more or less ideal conditions are in place for such a project.
The questions posed by all the projects grouped within this cluster are clear: how strong was the ecological influence on man's cultural development really, especially with regard to sedentarization and the adoption of a productive mode of economy? What induced people to abandon foraging, practised for thousands of years, in favour of agriculture - a more labour-intensive method of subsistence, and a riskier one in view of the greater dependency on the climate? Were the forms of human society and economy indeed primarily dependent on the natural environment, or might certain cultural factors have played a similar significant role, which could possibly even lead to a relativization of ecological determinacy? After the adoption of a sedentary way of life and the transition to agriculturalism, man continued to impact on his environment, transforming it in all manner of ways, which could have had repercussions for himself. This in turn leads to the question of how Neolithic man organized the use of resources available in the vicinity of permanent settlements to ensure their continued existence - and his own survival. From the projects grouped within this cluster it is possible only to develop models for very specific historic situations, or might mechanisms be discernible which, given certain conditions, display a certain regularity, or indeed inevitability, and are therefore generalizable?
A research such as this, it is essential for the potential of modern archaeo-scientific methods to be fully exploited - as indeed occurs already in virtually all of the projects in this cluster. It is a matter of urgency that interdisciplinary cooperation is further intensified, however, and that we work towards the development of new scientific procedures and methodology. This includes for instance the use of precise dating methods (radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology, thermoluminescence, etc.) as a basis for a comparative survey of diverse cultural spheres, the utilization of existing geophysical prospection methods and the development of new ones for the purpose of ascertaining the size and structure of settlements and agricultural areas, the application of archaeozoological and archaeobotanical research for the reconstruction of a population's economic basis and nutritional habits, the use of geo-sciences in climate and landscape history, conducting materials analyses on ceramics, stone, etc., palaeopathological investigations of human skeletal material to establish malnutrition and diseases typical of sedentarized populations compared to hunter-gatherers, isotope analysis to quantify the mobility of humans and animals, and so forth. Altogether the prospects are very good for receiving support through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research programme 'New natural-science methods and technologies in the humanities'.
The DAI projects which form part of this research cluster are being carried out in different parts of the Old and New World, which we have divided into four major regions for the purposes of the cluster. Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Anatolia and the central Orontes valley lie in the area where sedentarism and productive economy first arose - the so-called Fertile Crescent - and our research there is aimed at uncovering the origins of this process. Aruchlo, Kırklareli and Okoliste on the other hand are located in a primary diffusion area. At the Transcaucasian site of Aruchlo, the Near East's links with the region north of the Greater Caucasus mountain range are being investigated, while at Kırklareli it is the influence of Anatolia upon the Balkan peninsula which is of prime concern; at Okoliste the focus of research activities lies on contacts between the Adriatic coast and the central Balkan hinterland. Secondary diffusion area projects are underway at Ambrona on the Castilian plateau, in the inlying areas of the Moroccan coastal zone as well as in the forested regions of north-eastern Europe. The origins and progress of sedentarization are markedly different there compared to the Fertile Crescent and the primary diffusion area. It is possible, finally, to gain a global perspective by the inclusion of regions far beyond the Near East and ancient Europe which display fully discrete, autochthonous developments; among such projects are those at Palpa and Montegrande in southern Peru and at Llanos de Moxos in eastern Bolivia.