Disease, CCR5-[DELTA]32 and the European Spread of Agriculture? A Hypothesis
Holtby, Ian, Scarre, Chris, Bentley, R. Alexander, Rowley-Conwy, Peter, Antiquity
From its origins in the Starcevo-Koros culture of the Hungarian Plain around 5700 BC the Neolithic archaeological assemblage of the Linearbandkeramik (LBK) spread within two centuries to reach Alsace and the middle Rhine by 5500 BC, though the rapidity of the spread makes it difficult to measure using available radiocarbon evidence (Dolukhanov et al. 2005). In this same time period, during the Terminal Mesolithic, c. 5800 to 5500 BC, there is evidence for forager-herder-horticulturists in Central and Western Europe prior to the appearance of the LBK (Gronenborn 1999, 2009). The Cardial Neolithic complex spread round the shores of the northern Mediterranean from southern Italy to Portugal in the period 5700-5400 BC.
Unfavourable climate change may have facilitated the rapid LBK spread, but seems insufficient to explain the magnitude and speed of this transition (Gronenborn 2009). Population density of Mesolithic groups would have been crucial, and the earliest LBK settlements were in areas of deciduous forests and loess soils considered scarcely visited by Mesolithic foragers, as evidenced by the paucity of Terminal Mesolithic sites in Central Europe (Luning et al. 1989). By contrast, areas where LBK did not spread readily tend to correspond with demonstrable Mesolithic occupation, including north-west France, the North European Plain and southern Scandinavia. The speed of LBK spread thus appears correlated with low density Late Mesolithic population. Iri the Mediterranean, the Cardial similarly bypassed areas of Mesolithic settlement and often occupied areas with little Mesolithic habitation.
A hypothesis for low Terminal Mesolithic populations is the introduction of new diseases such as smallpox, measles, brucellosis and influenza into Europe with incoming Neolithic populations (Wolfe et al. 2007; Barnes et al. 2010). Those diseases known as 'zoonoses' may have been derived through domestic livestock living in close and regular …
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Publication information: Article title: Disease, CCR5-[DELTA]32 and the European Spread of Agriculture? A Hypothesis. Contributors: Holtby, Ian - Author, Scarre, Chris - Author, Bentley, R. Alexander - Author, Rowley-Conwy, Peter - Author. Journal title: Antiquity. Volume: 86. Issue: 331 Publication date: March 2012. Page number: 207+. © 2008 Antiquity Publications, Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2012 Gale Group.
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