Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 6, pp 705–725 | Cite as

Modeling Human Ecodynamics and Biocultural Interactions in the Late Pleistocene of Western Eurasia

  • C. Michael BartonEmail author
  • Julien Riel-Salvatore
  • John M. Anderies
  • Gabriel Popescu


Given the complex and multidimensional nature of human evolution, we need to develop theoretical and methodological frameworks to account for and model the dynamic feedbacks between co-operational biological and cultural evolutionary systems to better understand the processes that produced modern human behavior. Equally important is the generation of explicit theory-based models that can be tested against the empirical paleoanthropological record. We present a case study that examines evidence for culturally-driven behavioral change among Late Pleistocene hominins that altered the social niche occupied by hominins in western Eurasia, with consequences for subsequent biological and cultural evolution. We draw on a large sample of 167 Pleistocene assemblages across western Eurasia and employ mathematical and computational modeling to explore the feedbacks between cultural and biological inheritance. Shifts in land-use strategies changed the opportunities for social and biological interaction among Late Pleistocene hominins in western Eurasia with a cascade of consequences for cultural and biological evolution, including the disappearance of Neanderthals from the fossil and archaeological records, and the acceleration of cultural evolution among ancestors of modern humans.


Behavioral ecology Modeling Mobility Land-use Lithic technology Eurasia Pleistocene Neanderthal Agent-based simulation 



This research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (grant BCS-0526073), and a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship and Graduate Student Fellowship from the Committee for the International Exchange of Scholars. We want to thank Kim Hill, Bill Kimbel, and Geoff Clark for their comments on versions of this manuscript. We are, of course, fully responsible for all ideas and their expression herein.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Michael Barton
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Julien Riel-Salvatore
    • 2
  • John M. Anderies
    • 3
  • Gabriel Popescu
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Social Dynamics & ComplexityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA
  3. 3.School of Human Evolution & Social Change, School of Sustainability, and Centre for the Study of Institutional DiversityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  4. 4.School of Human Evolution & Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  5. 5.School of Human Evolution & Social ChangeArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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