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Transition to farming more likely for small, conservative groups with property rights, but increased productivity is not essential

Gallagher, EM; Shennan, SJ; Thomas, MG; (2015) Transition to farming more likely for small, conservative groups with property rights, but increased productivity is not essential. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 112 (46) pp. 14218-14223. 10.1073/pnas.1511870112. Green open access

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Abstract

Theories for the origins of agriculture are still debated, with a range of different explanations offered. Computational models can be used to test these theories and explore new hypotheses; Bowles and Choi [Bowles S, Choi J-K (2013) Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110(22):8830–8835] have developed one such model. Their model shows the coevolution of farming and farming-friendly property rights, and by including climate variability, replicates the timings for the emergence of these events seen in the archaeological record. Because the processes modeled occurred a long time ago, it can be difficult to justify exact parameter values; hence, we propose a fitting to idealized outcomes (FIO) method to explore the model’s parameter space in more detail. We have replicated the model of Bowles and Choi, and used the FIO method to identify complexities and interactions of the model previously unidentified. Our results indicate that the key parameters for the emergence of farming are group structuring, group size, conservatism, and farming-friendly property rights (lending further support to Bowles and Choi’s original proposal). We also find that although advantageous, it is not essential that farming productivity be greater than foraging productivity for farming to emerge. In addition, we highlight how model behaviors can be missed when gauging parameter sensitivity via a fix-all-but-one variation approach.

Type: Article
Title: Transition to farming more likely for small, conservative groups with property rights, but increased productivity is not essential
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1511870112
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1511870112
Language: English
Keywords: Neolithic revolution, simulation, agent-based modeling, fitting to idealized outcomes, property rights
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1483843
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