Something I want to do in this new blog is to revisit some areas that I have explored in the past, hopefully with an improved approach. One of the key elements in understanding European Prehistory as a whole is the demographics of Paleolithic Europe. Nothing better surely than this excellent survey of archaeological density and corresponding population estimates:
Jean-Pierre Bocquet-Appel et al. Estimates of Upper Palaeolithic meta-population size in Europe from archaeological data. Journal of Archaeological Sciences 2005. (PDF).
The paper evidences the demographic growth, specially after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), when it really explodes (from 5900 to 28,700 – average figures).
But maybe even more interesting is the demographic tendencies of the various regions. Most outstandingly, the Franco-Cantabrian region comprises almost half of the all Europeans early on, reaching to 2/3 in the LGM.
Second is the Danube region, with 20-25% in the early period and a marked decrease in the LGM. Third is the related Rhine region with 6-9%, sharply declining to near zero in the LGM.
These three regions are fused in the latest map (Late UP, Magdalenian), including together 95% of all Europeans some 15-10,000 years ago. These would be then something between 11,000 and 73,000 individuals, average: 29,000 (more than 27,000 in the Magdalenian area).
|Fig. 5 (2nd part). Population estimates for LGM (top) and Late UP (bottom)|
Less important regions are East Europe (4% in the Gravettian era, declining after that) and Iberia (7% in the LGM, much less in the next period). Italy is not mentioned but does indeed show some sparse continuity (Gravettian/Epigravettian).
You can easily compare these maps and those of the patterns of R1b1b2a1a2; it seems clear to me that the best possible explanation for its subclades’ dispersion patterns is at the post-LGM stage.