Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Palaeolithic Populations and Waves of Advance

Joaquim  Fort  a1 , Toni  Pujol  a1 and Luigi Luca  Cavalli-Sforza  a2
a1 Departament de Física, Universitat de Girona, Campus de Montilivi, 17071 Girona, Catalonia, Spain;;
a2 Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5120, USA.

Article author query
fort j   [Google Scholar] 
pujol t   [Google Scholar] 
cavalli-sforza l l   [Google Scholar] 


The wave-of-advance model has been previously applied to Neolithic human range expansions, yielding good agreement to the speeds inferred from archaeological data. Here, we apply it for the first time to Palaeolithic human expansions by using reproduction and mobility parameters appropriate to hunter-gatherers (instead of the corresponding values for preindustrial farmers). The order of magnitude of the predicted speed is in agreement with that implied by the AMS radiocarbon dating of the lateglacial human recolonization of northern Europe (14.2–12.5 kyr BP). We argue that this makes it implausible for climate change to have limited the speed of the recolonization front. It is pointed out that a similar value for the speed can be tentatively inferred from the archaeological data on the expansion of modern humans into the Levant and Europe (42–36 kyr BP).

(Received July 4 2003)

Key Words: wave-of-advance model; Palaeolithic humans; population expansion, Palaeolithic.