Agents Adopting Agriculture:Modeling the Agricultural Transition

  • Elske van der Vaart
  • Bart de Boer
  • Albert Hankel
  • Bart Verheij
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4095)


The question “What drove foragers to farm?” has drawn answers from many different disciplines, often in the form of verbal models. Here, we take one such model, that of the ideal free distribution, and implement it as an agent-based computer simulation. Populations distribute themselves according to the marginal quality of different habitats, predicting settlement patterns and subsistence methods over both time and space. Our experiments and our analyses thereof show that central conclusions of the ideal free distribution model are reproduced by our agent-based simulation, while at the same time offering new insights into the theory’s underlying assumptions. Generally, we demonstrate how agent-based models can make use of empirical data to reconstruct realistic environmental and cultural contexts, enabling concrete tests of the explanatory power of anthropological models put forward to explain historical developments, such as agricultural transitions, in specific times and places.


Behavioral Ecology Perfect Information Verbal Model Habitat Choice Ideal Free Distribution 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elske van der Vaart
    • 1
  • Bart de Boer
    • 1
  • Albert Hankel
    • 1
  • Bart Verheij
    • 1
  1. 1.Artificial IntelligenceRijksuniversiteit GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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