The paleodemography of a fishing-hunting-gathering village from the eastern woodlands, USA

Richard S. Meindl, Kent State University
Robert Mensforth, Cleveland State University
Owen Lovejoy, Kent State University

The demographic reconstruction of extinct societies from archaeological sites is a sampling problem, since many agents may affect the representativeness of cemeteries. However, the most important biases derive from aboriginal burial practices, many of which preclude our study of the most important stage of human demographic prehistory. One problem is that there were few pre-agricultural peoples from anywhere in the world who returned all their members to a common place of burial. This is unfortunate because the long period of time prior to intensive food production is characteristic of our species and therefore most important to understanding its demographic evolution. The Libben site in Ohio dates from late 1st millennium A.D. and is the largest single-occupation archaeological population from the eastern woodlands of the USA. Drawing from modern ethnographic estimates of fertility and auricular-based skeletal ages, we present the paleodemography of the Libben population, including growth-adjusted mortality profiles and age-structures.

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Presented in Session 19: Paleodemography