Population and forest dynamics during the Central European Eneolithic (4500–2000 BC)
The population boom-and-bust during the European Neolithic (7000–2000 BC) has been the subject of lively discussion for the past decade. Most of the research on this topic was carried out with help of summed radiocarbon probability distributions. We aim to reconstruct population dynamics within the catchment of a medium sized lake on the basis of information on the presence of all known past human activities. We calculated a human activity model based on Monte Carlo simulations. The model showed the lowest level of human activity between 4000 and 3000 BC. For a better understanding of long-term socio-environmental dynamics, we also used the results of a pollen-based quantitative vegetation model, as well as a local macrophysical climate model. The beginning of the decline of archaeologically visible human activities corresponds with climatic changes and an increase in secondary forest taxa probably indicating more extensive land use. In addition, social and technological innovations are important, such as the introduction of the ard, wheel, animal traction and metallurgy, as well as changes in social hierarchy characterizing the same period.