Data


Population estimates for the Final Palaeolithic (14,000 to 11,600 years cal. BP) of Europe – challenging evidence and methodological limitations

Abstract

The impressive corpus of recently published research on the Final Palaeolithic of Europe contrasts with few studies explicitly dealing with the demography of these hunter-gatherer communities. Our paper presents new results on population estimates for the period from 14,000 to 11,600 years cal. BP. The population estimates are obtained by applying the so-called ‘Cologne Protocol’ to the specifically challenging evidence of Final Palaeolithic human occupation across Europe, which is characterised by – environmental, cultural, and economical – changes and variability. Therefore, the paper explicitly focuses on effects of these factors as well as related methodological constraints.
In doing so, we find strong arguments that our results of around 6,600 people (with minima and maxima of 3,100 to 10,900 people) likely overestimate the actual population size of the Final Palaeolithic. For the current dataset, low temporal resolution of the available data is one of the most critical factors. Additionally, a diachronic comparison of our results with estimates for preceding periods indicates a general population decline after the Late Magdalenian. This finding is fostered by evidence from independent proxies used in regional studies. The present case study demonstrates the importance of approaching prehistoric demography through independent proxies, disentangling causal relations between proxies, and by considering different spatial and temporal scales.

Resources

Bibliography

Schmidt, I., Gehlen, B., Zimmermann, A. (2022): Population estimates for the Final Palaeolithic (14,000 to 11,600 years cal. BP) of Europe – challenging evidence and methodological limitations. Hugo Obermaier-Gesellschaft à Strasbourg (16-17 mai 2019)., Séances de la Société préhistorique française, 17. Paris : Société préhistorique française

Authors Schmidt, Isabell and Gehlen, Birgit and Zimmermann, Andreas
Type conference
Title Population estimates for the Final Palaeolithic (14,000 to 11,600 years cal. BP) of Europe – challenging evidence and methodological limitations
Year 2022
Pages p. 221-237
Publisher Hugo Obermaier-Gesellschaft à Strasbourg (16-17 mai 2019).
Series Mobility of people, objects and ideas during the European Upper Paleolithic
School Séances de la Société préhistorique française, 17. Paris : Société préhistorique française
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