Ecological dimensions of population dynamics and subsistence in Neo-Eneolithic Eastern Europe

Thomas K. Harper, Aleksandr Diachenko, Yuri Ya Rassamakin, Douglas J. Kennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


During the fourth millennium BCE socioeconomic change from a regime of Neo-Eneolithic village-based sedentary agriculture to more itinerant pastoralism dramatically changed European society. Continental-scale archaeological and genetic studies generally attribute this change to the movement of Early Bronze Age (EBA) populations into Eastern Europe ca. 3000 BCE. However, archaeological assemblages in Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania suggest that migrations and changes in subsistence regime started earlier, coinciding with climatic change during the 5.9 ka event (Bond Event 4) and continuing into the Atlantic/Subboreal transition. We apply the Ideal Free Distribution (IFD) to a settlement record spanning over 3000 years (ca. 6100–3000 BCE) in 14 sub-regions of Eastern Europe to establish a quantitative indicator of changing subsistence strategies throughout the fourth millennium BCE. This provides corroboration for arguments made on the basis of careful study of material culture, which suggest that economic changes were gradual, regionally diverse in their manifestation and pre-date the arrival of EBA populations in Eastern Europe. Our implementation of the IFD shows it to be a useful tool for highlighting changes in regional subsistence regimes, but further analysis is required to address issues of habitat ranking, migratory vectors, and settlement dating on smaller scales.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Mar 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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