From hunter-gatherer encampments to modern cities, permanent human settlements tend to densify as the population grows, while mobile human settlements do the opposite. New research in Current Anthropology by SFI’s Luís Bettencourt and Scott Ortman, with co-authors José Lobo, Todd Whitelaw, Polly Wiessner, and Michael E. Smith, explores these dynamics and the conditions that might lead impermanent, spread-out communities to transition to denser, stationary settlements. 

“This paper represents an extension into the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the analytical framework we have used to study cities and urbanization,” says Lobo. “The transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentism is one of the most important transitions in the history of our species and a very active area of research.”

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