Environmental Footprints in Prehistoric Europe

The environmental footprints of agriculture in prehistoric Europe: Cultural groups and subsistence variability in time and space.

As agricultural societies advanced from southwest Asia towards Europe, they met a variety of environmental conditions and developed various subsistence strategies that changed as societies and agricultural technologies evolved, and growing population increased pressure on the land. Early Neolithic farmers settled on fertile loess soils and practiced intensive agriculture, planting fields annually while keeping livestock and applying manure on fields. As human populations grew, people spread out onto more marginal lands and developed specialized subsistence strategies in a variety of environments. The aim of this research is to classify the major subsistence strategies used in Europe from the beginning of the Neolithic to the onset of the Roman Empire. Using our historical population database we will distribute people on the landscape and estimate human impact on vegetation and soils. This work will help to evaluate the Ruddiman’s Early Anthropogenic Hypothesis that humans practicing early agriculture emitted significant amounts of carbon to the atmosphere through deforestation and keeping livestock.