CS1 - Gujarat · India

Hunter-Gatherer persistence in arid margins. The case of North Gujarat (India).

Case Study 1


Aim. The aim of this case study is to model resource management and decision making among hunter-gatherer groups in Northern Gujarat in order to explore evolutionary trajectories in relation to (a) the appearance of other specialized groups during the mid-Holocene and (b) environmental variability.


Background. The study of coexistence and interaction between groups with different subsistence strategies and land-use behaviours represents an interesting research challenge to understand socio-ecological dynamics. This study deeply depends on the appreciation of past settlement dynamics and resource management. Traditionally, these aspects have been observed identifying statistically relevant factors. Statistical analyses help identify patterns in the data, but they do not explain those patterns. Correlations and constant conjunctions are not explanatory, but observational phenomena that need to be explained by reference to the mechanisms that brought them into existence. To do that, we need to improve our capacity to model human behaviour and explore its action in a dynamical perspective. Northern Gujarat (India) is a marginal environment between the Thar Desert and the more fertile area of Saurashtra. This region is an ecotone characterized by the seasonal influence of the monsoon, where contrasting ecological niches are in tension and small climatic shifts can generate significant environmental changes. Archaeological evidence points to the presence and possible coexistence in the area of groups of people with different resource management strategies and mobility behaviours during the mid-Holocene: hunter-gatherers (HG) and agropastoralists (AP).


Questions. What factors play a role in HG persistence or disappearance? Is the advent of AP behaviour a big-enough change to explain the disappearance of HG behaviour? Does climate change affect HG behaviour?


Methodology. We use ABM simulation to explore different resource management strategies and mobility behaviours within a realistic scenario. Simulation experiments are based on empirical knowledge and coherent with what would probably happen in reality. Archaeological, anthropological and palaeoenvironmental data are used here to calibrate the model and, potentially, to validate some of the results we expect to reach.