Eastern North American population at ca. A.D. 1500

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Archaeologically documented population aggregates are used to estimate the population of eastern North America around A.D. 1500 and by extension the entire continent north of heavily populated Mesoamerica. Occupied areas plotted from archaeological and historical information were increased by buffer areas with widths determined by average nearest neighbor distances. Population sizes assigned to these areas were based on three compilations of historic sources, each handled in various ways. Local densities were calculated and then used to interpolate density surfaces for a ca. 3.1 million km2 area. The surfaces were further modified by assessments of data quality and overall occupation intensity to provide upper and lower bounds for each estimate. The procedure, designed to produce a range that was overly wide, resulted in an eastern population between.5 and 2.6 million and a continental total, north of Mesoamerica, of 1.2 to 6.1 million. These figures fall in the lower third of current authoritative estimates for the continent as a whole, which range from 2.4 to 18 million.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-726
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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