Demography of the Đerdap Mesolithic–Neolithic Transition

Mary Jackes, Mirjana Roksandić & Christopher Meiklejohn


Models for the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition are critically dependent on demographic variables. A major issue has been whether Mesolithic populations were stationary or increasing in demographic terms. The development of methods allowing for palaeodemographic comparison among archaeological skeletal samples provides the opportunity to test assumptions about the adequacy of samples and about changes in fertility during the European Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic.

Previous work has suggested that the Mesolithic was a period of stationary population in the far west and north of Europe, while the Neolithic brought with it a significant increase in fertility. We apply our standardized palaeodemographic methods to data from Đerdap skeletal samples to examine whether period assignments need reassessment, and whether the Neolithic brought increased fertility to the Iron Gates region.

Our conclusions indicate that continuing reassessment of the assignment of Lepenski Vir skeletons to archaeological periods is needed, that Mesolithic populations were stationary, and that there is a high probability for increased fertility rates in the Neolithic at Lepenski Vir.