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Eastern North American Population at ca. A.D. 1500

  • George R. Milner (a1) and George Chaplin (a1)

Abstract

Archaeologically documented population aggregates are used to estimate the population of eastern North America around A.D. 1500 and by extension the entire continent north of heavily populated Mesoamerica. Occupied areas plotted from archaeological and historical information were increased by buffer areas with widths determined by average nearest neighbor distances. Population sizes assigned to these areas were based on three compilations of historic sources, each handled in various ways. Local densities were calculated and then used to interpolate density surfaces for a ca. 3.1 million km2 area. The surfaces were further modified by assessments of data quality and overall occupation intensity to provide upper and lower bounds for each estimate. The procedure, designed to produce a range that was overly wide, resulted in an eastern population between .5 and 2.6 million and a continental total, north of Mesoamerica, of 1.2 to 6.1 million. These figures fall in the lower third of current authoritative estimates for the continent as a whole, which range from 2.4 to 18 million.

Resumen

Registros arqueológicos de agregados poblacionales son empleados para estimar la población del este de Norteamérica para alrededor del 1500 A.D. y, a la vez, en la totalidad del continente al norte de la fuertemente poblada Mesoamérica. Las áreas con ocupación fueron trazadas con base en la información arqueológica e histórica y el ancho de sus límites perimetrales fue ampliado basándose en las distancias promedio del vecino más cercano. El tamaño poblacional asignado a cada una de estas áreas estuvo basado en la compilación de tres fuentes históricas, cada una usada de diferente manera. Las densidades locales fueron calculadas posteriormente utilizadas para interpolar superficies de densidad para un área de ca. 3.1 millones de km2. Posteriormente, las superficies fueron modificadas mediante la evaluación de la calidad de los datos y la intensidad de ocupación en general, para así establecer los límites superiores e inferiores de cada estimación. El procedimiento, diseñado para generar un rango extremadamente amplio, produjo un valor de .5 a 2.6 millones para la población del este, y un total de 1.2 a 6.1 millones para todo el continente al norte de Mesoamérica. Estas figuras caen en el tercio bajo de las actuales estimaciones oficiales que se tienen para la totalidad del continente, las cuales oscilan entre 2.4 y 18 millones.

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References

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