Population Processes and Their Consequences in Early Neolithic Central Europe

  • Stephen Shennan


On the basis of premises derived from behavioural ecology and life history theory, the chapter proposes a demographically based model for the spread of farming into Central Europe and the social and economic trajectory subsequently followed by the early farming groups of this region. It is entirely predictable that people would take reproductive advantage of the dispersal opportunities provided by the cereals–domestic animals package in a sub-continent with low population densities, while the ideal despotic distribution provides a basis for understanding the subsequent emergence of social inequalities and higher order social entities apparent from the archaeological record. The argument is illustrated with data from the western LBK region. From the archaeological point of view the reconstruction of changing population densities is central to developing explanations of the social, economic and cultural changes associated with the Neolithic Demographic Transition and its consequences, since absolute population levels are as important as growth rates.


Linear pottery culture early neolithic ideal despotic distribution carrying capacity population growth social inequality reproductive decision making 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Shennan
    • 1
  1. 1.Director Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondon 31--34 Gordon Sq

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