Stefan Burmeister and Michael Gebühr
This chapter looks at the demography of European populations from the pre-Roman Iron Age to the Migration period, with a focus on central, northern, and north-western Europe. As well as cemetery data, it draws on contemporary textual and epigraphic sources, along with simulations. Given the diversity of societies in this large area and time span, regional variations are only to be expected. Palaeodemographic procedures and models are outlined, as well as the inherent problems of reconstructing prehistoric population profiles and densities. Age at death provides the starting point for reconstructing demographic composition, the life cycles of individuals generating mortality curves, which form the basis for calculating the age composition of the living community (expressed as a life pyramid). Divergences from the standard mortality curve or expected life pyramid, and variations between regions, require explanation, in terms of archaeological or cultural phenomena, migration being an obvious example.