How Neolithic farmers and hunter-gatherers fought for space
A physical model potentially explains how the spreading of Neolithic farmers was slowed down.
Washington: A new research details a physical model, which can potentially explain how the spreading of Neolithic farmers was slowed down by the population density of hunter-gatherers.
Agricultural – or Neolithic – economics replaced the Mesolithic social model of hunter-gathering in the Near East about 10,000 years ago.
One of the most important socio-economic changes in human history, this socio-economic shift, known as the Neolithic transition, spread gradually across Europe until it slowed down when more northern latitudes were reached.
Now, researchers from Girona, in Catalonia, Spain, have used a reaction-diffusion model, which explains the relation between population growth and available space, taking into account the directional space dependency of the established Mesolithic population density.
The findings confirm archaeological data, which shows that the slowdown in the spreading of farming communities was not, as often assumed, the result of crops needing to adapt to chillier climates, but indeed a consequence of the struggle for space with prevalent hunter-gatherer communities.
In the future, the researchers`` model could be used for further physical modelling of socio-economic transitions in the history of humanity.
As the researchers write, "The model presented in this work could be applied to many examples of invasion fronts in which the indigenous population and the invasive one compete for space in a single biological niche, both in natural habitats and in microbiological assays."
The study has been published in New Journal of Physics.