The Formation of Europe: Prehistoric Population Dynamics and the Roots of Socio-Cultural Diversity

Most Recent Event

April 14-16 2010 - Project Workshop IV, Newcastle University, UK



Funded by the European Commission's FP6 NEST initiative


Newcastle University
Anvar Shukurov homepage
Pavel Dolukhanov homepage

Project summary

Our major goal is to test, with quantitative and qualitative tools, the hypothesis that some key aspects of the current economic and socio-cultural diversity of European nations have roots in prehistory. We shall integrate the expertise in mathematics, computing, archaeology, palaeodemography and palaeoenvironment into an interdisciplinary approach aimed at a groundbreaking, comprehensive theory of the Neolithic Revolution. We shall quantify, and hence clarify, the interaction of the environmental factors with social, cultural and human aspects of the Neolithic Revolution.

This project will be the first to consider the Neolithisation of Western, Central and Eastern Europe as a pan-European process. Our main tool will be a novel mathematical model of population dynamics for the epoch of the initial spread of the Neolithic in Europe (8000-3000 BC). The model will be based on advanced population dynamics theory with full allowance for environmental factors (including geomorphology, waterways and coastlines, soil fertility, and biomass and climatic variations). The methodology of parameter estimation for large-scale population dynamics models will be developed, and various mathematical and geostatistical approaches to local and non-local demographic processes will be implemented. The model will be refined using the abundant radiocarbon age determinations, genetic markers and archaeological evidence.

Much of the high-resolution archaeological evidence will be collected in several case studies focussed on the Adriatic Sea area, the Eastern Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe. Our results may significantly change the understanding of the origin and nature of modern cultural, social and economic diversity in Europe. We anticipate that this project will develop into a new field of research, Quantitative Environmental Archaeology, at the boundary between science and the humanities.

Project outcomes

The project outcomes are described in various documents under Outcomes.

Last updated by Graeme Sarson 31/01/2011