Session: #344

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

How Many People? Archaeological Approaches to the Study of Past Demography
Demography is one of the main topics of interest in the study of past human societies. While many scholars are sceptical of attempts to estimate past population sizes, such assessments constitute important contributions when it comes to discussions on the rate of population growth/demise and of the causal mechanisms underpinning them, socio-economic parameters including production and consumption, human environmental impacts, or the nature of internal and external conflict. With the rise of processual archaeology, attempts to systematise the reconstruction of past population figures gained popularity, and the last two decades have witnessed a renewed interest in these questions. Traditional demographic estimates include the use of settlement (e.g. number of domestic contexts, settlement sizes) and funerary data (e.g. mortality curves, temporal estimates of number of graves). In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in demographic models based on the statistical assessment of radiocarbon dates and of a wider variety of other potential proxies (e.g. pollen studies to determine farming intensity). This session invites papers that employ archaeological approaches to the study of past population size. We welcome contributions with a theoretical-methodological perspective, discussing the potential and limitations of a range of traditional and novel demographic proxies and data modelling methods, as well as papers that present specific case studies.
Demography, Population size, Settlement data, Funerary data, Modelling
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Main organiser:
Ricardo Fernandes (Germany) 1,2,3
Manuel Fernández-Götz (United Kingdom) 4
Marc Vander Linden (United Kingdom) 5
1. Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
2. Oxford University
3. Masaryk University
4. University of Edinburgh
5. Bournemouth University