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Marine resource abundance drove pre-agricultural population increase in Stone Age Scandinavia

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posted on 07.05.2020 by Jonathan Lewis, David Ryves, P Rasmussen, J Olsen, LG van der Sluis, PJ Reimer, KL Knudsen, S McGowan, NJ Anderson, S Juggins
How climate and ecology affect key cultural transformations remains debated in the context of long-term socio-cultural development because of spatially and temporally disjunct climate and archaeological records. The introduction of agriculture triggered a major population increase across Europe. However, in Southern Scandinavia it was preceded by ~500 years of sustained population growth. Here we show that this growth was driven by long-term enhanced marine production conditioned by the Holocene Thermal Maximum, a time of elevated temperature, sea level and salinity across coastal waters. We identify two periods of increased marine production across trophic levels (P1 7600–7100 and P2 6400–5900 cal. yr BP) that coincide with markedly increased mollusc collection and accumulation of shell middens, indicating greater marine resource availability. Between ~7600–5900 BP, intense exploitation of a warmer, more productive marine environment by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers drove cultural development, including maritime technological innovation, and from ca. 6400–5900 BP, underpinned a ~four-fold human population growth.

Funding

Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2012-817 to D.B.R.)

Carlsberg Foundation (ANS-1283/20 to D.B.R.)

Danish Council for Independent Research-Natural Sciences and Humanities (grants 21-03-0510 and 25-03-0462 to P.R.)

Loughborough University Development Fund (Ph.D. funding for J.P.L.) and through a Quaternary Research Association (QRA) New Researchers’ Award (J.P.L.)

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Nature Communications

Volume

11

Publisher

Springer Nature

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Acceptance date

28/02/2020

Publication date

2020-04-24

Copyright date

2020

eISSN

2041-1723

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Dave Ryves. Deposit date: 6 May 2020

Article number

2006

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