Marine resource abundance drove pre-agricultural population increase in Stone Age Scandinavia

J. P. Lewis*, D. B. Ryves, P. Rasmussen, J. Olsen, L. G. van der Sluis, P. J. Reimer, K.-L. Knudsen, S. McGowan, N. J. Anderson, S. Juggins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

How climate and ecology affect key cultural transformations remains debated in the context of long-term socio-cultural development because of spatially and temporally disjunct climate and archaeological records. The introduction of agriculture triggered a major population increase across Europe. However, in Southern Scandinavia it was preceded by ~500 years of sustained population growth. Here we show that this growth was driven by long-term enhanced marine production conditioned by the Holocene Thermal Maximum, a time of
elevated temperature, sea level and salinity across coastal waters. We identify two periods of increased marine production across trophic levels (P1 7600–7100 and P2 6400–5900 cal. yr BP) that coincide with markedly increased mollusc collection and accumulation of shell middens, indicating greater marine resource availability. Between ~7600–5900 BP, intense exploitation of a warmer, more productive marine environment by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers drove cultural development, including maritime technological innovation, and from ca. 6400–5900 BP, underpinned a ~four-fold human population growth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2006
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • marine production
  • population
  • marine resources
  • Holocene thermal maximum
  • agriculture
  • shell middens
  • archaeology
  • Denmark

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Marine resource abundance drove pre-agricultural population increase in Stone Age Scandinavia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Lewis, J. P., Ryves, D. B., Rasmussen, P., Olsen, J., van der Sluis, L. G., Reimer, P. J., Knudsen, K-L., McGowan, S., Anderson, N. J., & Juggins, S. (2020). Marine resource abundance drove pre-agricultural population increase in Stone Age Scandinavia. Nature Communications, 11, [2006]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-15621-1