Sunday, February 25, 2024

Climate change probably affected human populations in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages

The human population in Neolithic Europe fluctuated with climate change, according to a study published in the open access journal ‘PLOS ONE’ by Ralph Grobmann of the University of Kiel (Germany) and his colleagues. The archaeological record is a valuable resource for exploring the relationship between humans and the environment, particularly how each affected the other. In this study, researchers examined regions of Central Europe rich in archaeological remains and geological sources of climate data, using these resources to identify correlations between human population trends and climate change.

The three areas examined are the Circumharz region in central Germany; the region of the Czech Republic and Lower Austria, and the Northern Prealps, in southern Germany. Researchers have collected more than 3,400 published radiocarbon dates from archaeological sites in these regions to serve as indicators of ancient populations, following the logic that more dates can be obtained from large populations left behind large amounts of materials.

Climate data comes from rock formations in these regions, which provide dated information about ancient climate conditions. These data span from 3550 to 1550 BC, from the late Neolithic to the early Bronze Age. The study found a striking correlation between climate and human population. In warm and humid seasons, the population tends to increase, probably thanks to improved crops and economy.

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During cold and dry periods, populations often decline, sometimes undergoing major cultural changes with possible signs of growing social inequality, such as the appearance of high-status ” princely burial” of some individuals in the Circumharz region. These results suggest that at least some of the trends in human population over time can be attributed to the effects of climate change.

The authors acknowledge that these data are likely to be biased by the limitations of the archaeological record in these regions, and that more data are essential to support these results. This type of study is important to understand the human connection with the environment and the effects of climate change on human cultures.

They added that, “between 5,500 and 3,500 years ago, the climate was an important factor in the development of the population in the regions around the Harz Mountains, in the northern Alpine foreland, and in the region of the present Czech Republic and Austria. not only the size of the population, but also the social structures are changed by climate change,” they said.

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