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Palaeolithic Europe
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Book description

In this book, Jennifer French presents a new synthesis of the archaeological, palaeoanthropological, and palaeogenetic records of the European Palaeolithic, adopting a unique demographic perspective on these first two-million years of European prehistory. Unlike prevailing narratives of demographic stasis, she emphasises the dynamism of Palaeolithic populations of both our evolutionary ancestors and members of our own species across four demographic stages, within a context of substantial Pleistocene climatic changes. Integrating evolutionary theory with a socially oriented approach to the Palaeolithic, French bridges biological and cultural factors, with a focus on women and children as the drivers of population change. She shows how, within the physiological constraints on fertility and mortality, social relationships provide the key to enduring demographic success. Through its demographic focus, French combines a 'big picture' perspective on human evolution with careful analysis of the day-to-day realities of European Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer communities—their families, their children, and their lives.

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