Preliminary abstract: Demography impacts all human societies, past and present. The 'Palaeolithic Europe: A Demographic and Social Prehistory' project combines archaeological, osteological, and genetic data to reconstuct the demographic history of European hunter-gatherer populations from the earliest human colonisation until the end of the last Ice Age (~1.8 million-12,000 years ago). These long-term prehistoric demographic patterns are analysed with reference to ethnographic data on recent foragers and demographic models of small-scale populations to examine population limiting factors, assessing how these varied chronologically, geographically, and between different hominin species. In particular, the project addresses on-going debates about the relationships between demographic variables and socio-cultural changes, and the influence of Pleistocene climatic flucuations on hunter-gatherer populations. In contrast to the prevailing global picture of almost zero population growth, this project presents a demographic history of the European Palaeolithic characterised by periods of rapid growth and decline, as well as great regional and chronological diversity; diversity which is key to understanding the development of hunter-gatherer societies and patterns of hominin evolution in this early stage of human prehistory.
The Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship is sought to aid the completion of the project monograph 'Palaeolithic Europe: A Demographic and Social Prehistory', which is under contract with Cambridge University Press for publication in their World Archaeology Series.