Cultural and demic diffusion of first farmers, herders, and their innovations across Eurasia


Was the spread of agropastoralism from the Eurasian founder regions dominated by demic or by cultural diffusion? This study employs a mathematical model of regional sociocultural development that includes different diffusion processes, local innovation and societal adaptation. Simulations hindcast the emergence and expansion of agropastoral life style in 294 regions of Eurasia and North Africa. Different scenarios for demic and diffusive exchange processes between adjacent regions are contrasted and the spatiotemporal pattern of diffusive events is evaluated. This study supports from a modeling perspective the hypothesis that there is no simple or exclusive demic or cultural diffusion, but that in most regions of Eurasia a combination of demic and cultural processes were important. Furthermore, we demonstrate the strong spatial and temporal variability in the balance of spread processes. Each region shows sometimes more demic, and at other times more cultural diffusion. Only few, possibly environmentally marginal, areas show a dominance of demic diffusion. This study affirms that diffusion processes should be investigated in a diachronic fashion and not from a time-integrated perspective.
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