secondary population explosions during the Neolithic

Jonathan Adams ((no email))
5 Nov 1996 03:23:37 GMT

I'm wondering how the patchy distribution of population expansion in neolithic
Europe might have affected modern-day gene distribution patterns. I'm not
talking about simple presence or absence of agriculture, but how high the
population density actually was. For example, the chalklands of SE England were
early on much more densly populated than most other areas of northern Europe,
even though agriculture was present throughout. Does this mean that the modern
gene structure of NW Europe is disproportionately influenced by the descendents
of that early chalkland population burst? In a period of actively expanding
population all across Europe, even a slight lead (e.g. 1000 years) in buildup
would have given a been advantage to the genetic population of any one area in
terms of leaving a modern-day genetic legacy.
It might be fun to try drawing maps of reconstructed population density
across Europe at 1000-year intervals during the Neolithic, bearing in mind what
is known of the archaeology, and extrapolating based on vegetation, soil type,
topography, climate etc. This could show up other, possibly more important,
'source areas' for the present genetic composition of European populations.
I'm only an ignorant plant ecologist. Forgive me if this is all wrong.
P.S. Add a palaeoecological perspective to your work! visit my palaeovegetation
atlas; I can't remember the whole web page address but look up 'QEN' using
Infoseek or other search engines.

Jonathan Adams