On the sensitivity of the simulated European Neolithic transition to climate extremes


Was the spread of agropastoralism from the Fertile Crescent throughout Europe influenced by extreme climate events, or was it independent of climate? We here generate idealized climate events using palaeoclimate records. In a mathematical model of regional sociocultural development, these events disturb the subsistence base of simulated forager and farmer societies. We evaluate the regional simulated transition timings and durations against a published large set of radiocarbon dates for western Eurasia; the model is able to realistically hindcast much of the inhomogeneous space-time evolution of regional Neolithic transitions. Our study shows that the consideration of climate events improves the simulation of typical lags between cultural complexes, but that the overall difference to a model without climate events is not significant. Climate events may not have been as important for early sociocultural dynamics as endogenous factors.
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