The following article, Climate Change Linked To Population Fluctuations And Social Inequality 5,000 Years Ago, was first published on Flag And Cross.
Climate change was causing massive fluctuations in the human population over 5,000 years ago, suggests a new study.
Harsher European climates were associated with decreased populations and increased social inequality in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, say scientists.
They explained that the archaeological record is a “valuable resource” for exploring the relationship between humans and the environment, particularly how one is affected by the other.
Researchers examined Central European regions rich in archaeological remains and geologic sources of climate data, using them to identify correlations between human population trends and climate change.
The three areas examined were the Circumharz region of central Germany, the Czech Republic and Lower Austria region, plus the Northern Alpine Foreland of southern Germany.
The research team compiled more than 3,400 published radiocarbon dates from archaeological sites in the regions to serve as indicators of ancient populations, following the logic that more dates are available from larger populations leaving behind more materials.
Climate data came from cave formations in the regions under examination as part of the study, published in the journal PLOS One.
The caves provided datable information about ancient climate conditions for the period from 3550BC to 1550BC, the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age.
Study author Doctor Ralph Grossmann said: “The study found a notable correlation between climate and human populations.
“Between 5500 and 3500 years ago, climate was a major factor in population development in the regions around the Harz Mountains, in the northern Alpine foreland and in the region of what is now the Czech Republic and Austria.
“However, not only the population size, but also the social structures changed with climate fluctuations.
“During warm and wet times, populations tended to increase, likely bolstered by improved crops and economies.
“During cold and dry times, populations often decreased, sometimes experiencing major cultural shifts with potential evidence of increasing social inequality, such as the emergence of high status ‘princely burials’ of some individuals in the Circumharz region.
“These results suggest that at least some of the trends in human populations over time can be attributed to the effects of changing climates.”
The research team acknowledged that the data was susceptible to skewing by limitations of the archaeological record in those regions, and that more data will be important to support the results.
But Dr. Grossmann, of Kiel University in Germany, added: “This type of study is crucial for understanding human connectivity to the environment and the impacts of changing climates on human cultures.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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