CS7 - Dynamics of social interactions and adoption of innovation in prehistoric Europe

Dynamics of social interactions and adoption of innovation in prehistoric Europe.

Case Study 7


Aim. The aim of this case study is to formulate solutions that can explain hypotheses about cultural diversity and expansive phenomena like the adoption of innovations (metallurgy, ritual, etc.) at the end of late Bronze Age. We plan to test the viability of demic diffusion models in this historic scenario, but we also want to formulate new models that include cultural transmission in addition to demic diffusion.


Background. The transition from late Bronze Age to Iron Age was a time of social change, but also a time of climatic transformation, during which what had been useful and possible stopped being of utility, and new forms of economic decision making and social interaction were developed. Migrations have been suggested as one of the possible explanations for the new degree of cultural homogeneity and the fast rate of adoption of technological innovations (metallurgy). However, the spreading mechanism for the Iron Age transition in Europe is controversial, and we want to test two different and competing models: the demic diffusion model (spread of population) and the cultural diffusion model (spread of ideas).


Questions. To what extent can geographical factors explain the non-homogeneities observed in the chronological variation of the adoption of innovations at different places? To what extent can the slowdown of the late Bronze/Iron spread at Northeastern Iberian Peninsula be explained by the opposing effect of indigenous populations? How does cultural diffusion change the predictions of purely demic models, and how do they compare to the archaeological data (radiocarbon estimations)? How do the results change under distance-dependent and frequency-dependent dynamics, as typically observed for human cultural transmission? What is the relative importance of demic, vertical and horizontal/oblique diffusion effects in the geographical spread of innovations at the end of the Late Bronze Age in Europe?


Methodology. In this case study we will develop reaction-diffusion models to describe the adoption of innovations in prehistoric Europe. Reaction-diffusion equations are mathematical models that can be applied to explain the evolution in time and space of the density of particles or individuals when under the influence of two processes: a reaction process, which corresponds to reproduction for biological populations, and a diffusion process. In order to model the adoption of innovations, we will also perform agent-based simulations implementing different hypothetical scenarios. These numerical simulations follow the evolution of the adoption of innovations in time in space within a two dimensional grid.