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Chapter 6 examines the Middle-to-Upper Palaeolithic transition which marks the third stage of the demographic prehistory of Palaeolithic Europe: expansion. This stage coincides with two important events – the extinction of the Neanderthals and the arrival into Europe by early Homo sapiens. These events are examined through the lens of the expansion of social lives and the increased interconnectivity of regional groups by early European Homo sapiens.
Chapter 8 summarises the new four stage demographic prehistory of Palaeolithic Europe developed in this book, identifies the ongoing challenges in reconstructing Palaeolithic population histories and places the evidence from Europe in its global context.
Chapter 4 discusses the Lower Palaeolithic populations who lived during the first stage of the demographic prehistory of Palaeolithic Europe: visitation. Substantial differences in the demographic records of the Early and Middle Pleistocene are seen in this visitation stage, but Europe was a continental population sink throughout.
Demographic data from recent hunter-gatherers are frequently used to supplement the database available for prehistoric hunter-gatherers. Through the lens of Human Behaviour Ecology, Chapter 3 analyses demographic data from recent foragers, identifies common population controls and constraints and uses these to develop some expectations for Palaeolithic hunter-gatherers.
During the fourth and final stage of the demographic prehistory of Palaeolithic Europe, people intensified both their presence on the European landscape and their social and material lives. Chapter 7 discusses the developments that occurred within this intensification stage, as well as the demographic effects of the Last Glacial Maximum.
Chapter 1 introduces the key issues in Palaeolithic palaeodemography, the four-stage model of the demographic prehistory of Palaeolithic Europe developed in this book, and the social approach adopted which focuses on the role of women and children as drivers of population change, and the distinction between small and small-scale societies.
The Neanderthals of the Middle Palaeolithic occupied Europe during the second demographic stage: residency. The Neanderthal metapopulation persisted for hundreds of thousands of years, but variation in the intensity of their presence suggest a complex pattern of population growth and decline, including regular extinctions linked to the ‘small-scale’ nature and comparative isolation of many Neanderthal groups.
Stones (archaeology), bones, and genes are the three main data sources for reconstructing demography in the Palaeolithic. Chapter 2 discusses the main methods associated with each of these data sources and explains why a ‘multi-proxy’ approach is necessary.
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.