Farmers’ spatial behaviour, demographic density dependence and the spread of Neolithic agriculture in Central Europe
Keywords:agglomeration economies, Allee effect, demographic density, LBK culture, migration, palaeo-economy
Since the early 1970s, the demic diffusion model is the cornerstone of the migrationist approach of the European neolithization. It considers the latter as a slow, gradual and unintentionally process. During the last decade its relevance has been challenged by the observed variability of the spread, such as the extreme one exhibited by the LBK expansion in Central Europe. To account for it, migration - which is usually explained by exogenous push-pull factors - must rather be viewed as the result of farmers’ spatial behaviour. We adopt this approach and highlight the influence on farmers’ location choice of agglomeration effects and Allee effect in settled areas, an influence which also leads to define migration endogenously. Both effects – which find support in archaeological records - exhibit demographic density dependence and help to explain an observed but counter-intuitive result. Indeed, a high demographic density is associated with a slower rate of expansion of farming; this may result from strong agglomeration and Allee effects which hinder – or even stop - the migratory spread of agriculture. Farmers’ cooperation with indigenous populations are leading to acculturation of the latter and therefore may reduce the influence of both effects, fostering farmers’ migration.
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