Humanizing wave of advance dispersal models

Author(s): Colin Wren

Year: 2015


Since Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza (1971) introduced Fisher’s (1937) wave of advance equation to archaeology, it has been the most commonly used method to model the complex dynamics behind human dispersals in a variety of regional and global case studies. The standard form of the model involves an initial population growing and spreading randomly outwards from an origin. Studies use the model to calculate expected arrival dates and expansion velocities based on population growth rate, inter-generational dispersal distance, and carrying capacity, which are estimated from archaeological and ethnographic data.

This paper outlines a primary limitation of the standard model, namely that it is not very human. Cognitive capacity is largely unaccounted for, as is the breadth of hunter-gatherer environmental knowledge. Using agent-based and numerical modelling, I demonstrate the effect of several modifications to the standard wave of advance model that highlight the complex relationship between expanding populations and their role within, and perception of, the social and physical environment. These modifications are more consistent with our understanding of hunter-gatherer mobility and foraging patterns, and with the archaeological record, than the standard model. The result is a humanized model of dispersal.

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Cite this Record

Humanizing wave of advance dispersal models. Colin Wren. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395154)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;