Darryl Holman's Research: Paleodemography
My research in historical demography and paleodemography is aimed at
understanding health, mortality, and population processes in the past.
I share with many anthropologists a deep interest in how technological
innovations (e.g. stone tools, agriculture) changed our species.
Demographic changes may follow from these cultural changes and, at the
same time, demographic changes may lead to development and deployment
of new technologies. The high rate of population growth experienced by
contemporary humans is a demographic anomaly-for most of our past,
growth rates have remained, on average, close to zero. Yet nearly
everything we know about human population dynamics comes from
observations taken over a brief (100 or 200 year) demographically
anomalous period. Paleodemography, and to some extent historical
demography, can provide alternative ways to investigate the demographic
regimes and dynamics of populations that characterize most of our
Paleodemography has had a turbulent couple of decades. Methodological
difficulties of recovering health and demographic information from
skeletal samples have caused some researchers to proclaim the field
dead. But over the last decade, a number of researchers have begun to
develop new methods that attempt to overcome the limitations. For a
number of years, I have worked with other paleodemographers on
recovering age-at-death distributions (O'Connor and Holman 1995),
somatic growth rates (Konigsberg and Holman 1999) and estimating
population growth rates (Holman et al. 1997, 1998) from skeletal
samples. We participated in a series of workshops on
mathematical modeling for paleodemography, sponsored by the Max Planck
Institute for Demographic Research. Participants
met at three workshops to discuss problems and develop solutions to a
number of thorny paleodemographic problems. Our contributions to this
effort included developing new statistical methods for estimating
age-at-death distributions from multiple imperfect age indicators
(Holman et al. 1999, 2000a, 2002a, 2002b), a method to recover
population growth rates from paleodemographic observations (Holman et
al. 1997, 1998; Wood et al. 2002), and a new parametric model of human
mortality (O'Connor et al. 1997; Wood et al. 2002). Our current and
future work in this area includes investigating mortality biases in
paleodemographic samples (Holman et al., submitted), and applying the
age-at-death distribution method to a number of demographic samples.
Holman DJ, O'Connor KA, Wood JW,
Boldsen JL (1997) Correcting for nonstationarity in paleodemographic
mortality models. American Association of Physical Anthropologists, St.
Louis, 3-5 Apr. Abstract: American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Holman DJ, O'Connor KA, Wood JW,
Boldsen J (1998) Estimating population growth rates from skeletal
samples. American Anthropological Association, Philadelphia, 2-6
Holman DJ, Wood JW, O'Connor KA.
(1999) Estimating age-at-death distributions from skeletal samples: A
multivariate latent trait approach. Workshop on Mathematical Modeling
for Palaeodemography: Coming to Consensus. Max Planck Institute for
Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, 9-11 Jun.
Holman DJ, Wood JW, O'Connor KA
(2000a) Estimating age-at-death distributions from skeletal samples: A
multivariate latent trait approach. Follow-up Workshop on Human
Longevity in the Past: New Approaches to Reconstructing Prehistoric
Mortality. Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research 4-5 Aug.
Holman DJ, O'Connor KA, Jones
RE. (submitted) Assessing biological mortality bias in deciduous tooth
Holman DJ, O'Connor KA and Wood JW.
(2002b) Estimating age-at-death distributions from skeletal samples: A
multivariate latent trait approach. In Hoppa RD and Vaupel JW (eds.)
Paleodemography: Age Distributions from Skeletal Samples. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, pp. 222-242.
Holman DJ, Usher B, Milner G,
Boldsen J, Konigsberg L (2002c) Empirical and simulation study of the
multivariate latent trait method. Third International Workshop on
Future Directions in Paleodemography, Max Planck Institute, Rostock
Germany, June 6-8.
Konigsberg L, Holman DJ (1999)
Estimation of age at death from dental emergence and implications for
studies of prehistoric somatic growth. In Hoppa RD and Fitzgerald CM
(eds.) Human Growth in the Past: Studies from Bones and Teeth.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 264-289.
O'Connor KA, Holman DJ (1995)
Comparison of maximum likelihood and Bayesian tooth age-at-death
distributions. American Association of Physical Anthropologists,
Oakland, 31 Mar. Abstract: American Journal of Physical Anthropology,
Suppl. 20, pg. 163.
Wood JW, Holman DJ, O'Connor KA and
Ferrell RJ. (2002) Models of human mortality. In Hoppa RD and Vaupel
JW (eds.) Paleodemography: Age Distributions from Skeletal Samples.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 129-168.
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