Modeling Hunter Gatherer Societies

This project is a component of a larger project led by the Institute of Human Origins (http://iho.asu.edu/). The main goal is to examine the coupled response of people and the environment in the Cape Floral Region on the south coast of Africa to major fluctuations in global climate during the time of the origins of the modern human lineage. It does so through an integrated, widely interdisciplinary study that synergizes knowledge and scientists from paleoanthropology, behavioral ecology, botany, cultural anthropology, geology, geography, marine geophysics, oceanography, paleo-oceanography, computer modeling, and climate science. This research is scientifically important as the south coast of Africa is one of the hypothesized origin locations for the modern human lineage and at the same time is the location for the floristically hyper-diverse and unique Cape Floral Region, the world's smallest floral kingdom, and a super-rich marine ecosystem. It has been argued that this confluence of diversity softened the blow of harsh climate phases and thus created a refuge for the first behaviorally modern humans during climate crises. The research team will explore the co-evolution of people and ecosystem by creating the first paleoscape models of the Cape Floral Region for four climate states: strong glacial, moderate glacial, moderate interglacial, and strong interglacial. The researchers will then use state-of-the-art computer models to simulate how people with hunting and gathering economies would utilize these changing environments. These models will produce archaeological expectations that will be tested with archaeological data.

The component CSID is involved in focuses on the use of agent-based modeling to study hunting and gathering economies. First a model is developed of the Ache, a modern day hunter-gather society, which has been studied by Kim Hill during the last 35 years (http://www.public.asu.edu/~krhill3/Ache.html). The developed model provides insights on the tradeoffs between group size, cooperative hunting and movement patterns of camp sites. The next step is to develop a model of the collection of raw material, shell fish, fruit and hunting activities for three periods in the constructed landscape for the Mossel Bay period (http://iho.asu.edu/fieldsites#mosselbay).

Project Period: 2011-2016

 

Marco Janssen
Principal investigator
Arizona State University, School of Sustainability
Kim Hill
Co-Principal investigators
Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Curtis Marean
Co-Principal investigators
Arizona State University, School of Human Evolution and Social Change