Journal article

Regional population collapse followed initial agriculture booms in mid-Holocene Europe

Stephen Shennan, Sean S Downey, Adrian Timpson, Kevan Edinborough, Sue Colledge, Tim Kerig, Katie Manning, Mark G Thomas



Following its initial arrival in SE Europe 8,500 years ago agriculture spread throughout the continent, changing food production and consumption patterns and increasing population densities. Here we show that, in contrast to the steady population growth usually assumed, the introduction of agriculture into Europe was followed by a boom-and-bust pattern in the density of regional populations. We demonstrate that summed calibrated radiocarbon date distributions and simulation can be used to test the significance of these demographic booms and busts in the context of uncertainty in the radiocarbon date calibration curve and archaeological sampling. We report these results for Central and Northw..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by European Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We are grateful to all those who provided radiocarbon data. This research was funded by the European Research Council Advanced Grant number 249390 to Shennan for the EUROEVOL project.