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The impact of the abrupt 8.2 ka cold event on the Mesolithic population of western Scotland: a Bayesian chronological analysis using ‘activity events’ as a population proxy

Wicks, K. and Mithen, S. (2014) The impact of the abrupt 8.2 ka cold event on the Mesolithic population of western Scotland: a Bayesian chronological analysis using ‘activity events’ as a population proxy. Journal of Archaeological Science, 45. pp. 240-269. ISSN 0305-4403

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2014.02.003

Abstract/Summary

The potential impact of the abrupt 8.2 ka cold event on human demography, settlement patterns and culture in Europe and the Near East has emerged as a key theme in current discussion and debate. We test whether this event had an impact on the Mesolithic population of western Scotland, a case study located within the North Atlantic region where the environmental impact of the 8.2 ka event is likely to have been the most severe. By undertaking a Bayesian analysis of the radiocarbon record and using the number of activity events as a proxy for the size of the human population, we find evidence for a dramatic reduction in the Mesolithic population synchronous with the 8.2 ka event. We interpret this as reflecting the demographic collapse of a low density population that lacked the capability to adapt to the rapid onset of new environmental conditions. This impact of the 8.2 ka event in the North Atlantic region lends credence to the possibility of a similar impact on populations in Continental Europe and the Near East.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:60211
Publisher:Elsevier

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