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A spatially explicit model of Final Palaeolithic population densities for southern Scandinavia in the period between 14,000 and 12,700 cal BP

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Recent research has considered past population densities as important drivers of culture change, not least in the archaeological record of the Palaeolithic. Methods for obtaining such estimates vary, but lately, the so-called Cologne Geostatistical Protocol has emerged as one of the most innovative ways of capturing such dynamics at the centennial-to-millennial scale. This approach utilizes geostatistical analytical techniques and demographic parameters gleaned from the ethnographic record. The application of this method has, however, been limited by the steep data requirement related to the delineation of raw material catchment areas. We here present initial results of attempts to overcome this and in turn to transfer the method to regions where such data are absent. With a focus on southern Scandinavia and the Late Glacial period between 14,000 and 12,700 cal BP, we discuss how such a transferal may be implemented and present our initial results. Grounded in detailed source-critical attention to the archaeological record in question, we produce estimated ranges on population size and density. The local and global population density figures derived for this period and region differ strongly, thus suggesting localized pockets of human presence, floating in wider regions that are only sparsely, if at all, inhabited. Moreover, the very low figures on the total population size suggested for this region may be seen to indicate intermittent settlement at or below the viability threshold. Viewing Final Palaeolithic population dynamics in this way has implications for our models of cultural continuity and discontinuity in the region.
TidsskriftJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatusUdgivet - 2019


  • Final Palaeolithic, Geostatistical methods, Palaeodemography, Southern Scandinavia

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