Fertility and the Development of Agriculture in the Prehistoric Midwest

Jane E. Buikstra, Lyle W. Konigsberg, Jill Bullington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article we develop and apply a method for estimating fertility in paleodemographic study. The proportion D30+/D5+, generated from standard life table calculations, is used to estimate relative fertility rates for eight Woodland and Mississippian populations represented by skeletal series from west-central Illinois. The inferred pattern of fertility increase through time is then considered in the context of key variables that define diet, technology, and sedentism. We conclude that changes in diet or food preparation techniques are implicated in this demographic change. The absence of a significant increment in juvenile mortality in association with the elevated fertility rates suggests that these changes in fertility explain the regional population increase previously inferred from mortuary and habitation site densities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-548
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Archaeology
  • Museology


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