The Neolithic Demographic Transition in the U.S. Southwest
Kohler, Timothy A.
Glaude, Matt Pier
Kemp, Brian M.
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Maize agriculture was practiced in the U.S. Southwest slightly before 2000 B.C., but had a negligible impact on population growth rates until the development or introduction of more productive land races; the ability to successfully cultivate maize under a greater variety of conditions, with dry farming especially important; the addition of beans, squash, and eventually turkey to the diet; increased sedentism; and what we infer to be the remapping of exchange networks and the development of efficient exchange strategies in first-millennium-A.D. villages. Our estimates of birthrates and growth rates are derived from the proportions of immature individuals among human remains. These proportions are somewhat affected by warfare in our region, and perhaps also by climate. Nevertheless, there is a strong identifiable Neolithic Demographic Transition signal in the U.S. Southwest in about the mid-first-millennium A.D. in most subregions, visible a few hundred years after the introduction of well-fired ceramic containers, and more or less contemporaneous with the first appearance of villages. Independent genetic data derived from the mitochondrial genomes of present-day indigenous populations of the Southwest are also consistent with the hypothesis that a major demographic expansion occurred 1,500-2000 years ago in the Southwest.