The Neolithic
Fertile Crescent
Heavy Neolithic
Shepherd Neolithic
Trihedral Neolithic
Pre-Pottery (A, B)
Qaraoun culture
Tahunian culture
Yarmukian culture
Halaf culture
Halaf-Ubaid Transitional period
Ubaid culture
Nile valley
Faiyum A culture
Tasian culture
Merimde culture
El Omari culture
Maadi culture
Badarian culture
Amratian culture
Arzachena culture
Boian culture
Butmir culture
Cardium pottery culture
Cernavodă culture
Coțofeni culture
Cucuteni–Trypillia culture
Dudești culture
Gorneşti culture
Gumelnița–Karanovo culture
Hamangia culture
Linear Pottery culture
Malta Temples
Ozieri culture
Petreşti culture
San Ciriaco culture
Shulaveri-Shomu culture
Sesklo culture
Tisza culture
Tiszapolgár culture
Usatovo culture
Varna culture
Vinča culture
Vučedol culture
Neolithic Transylvania
Neolithic Southeastern Europe
Peiligang culture
Pengtoushan culture
Beixin culture
Cishan culture
Dadiwan culture
Houli culture
Xinglongwa culture
Xinle culture
Zhaobaogou culture
Hemudu culture
Daxi culture
Majiabang culture
Yangshao culture
Hongshan culture
Dawenkou culture
Songze culture
Liangzhu culture
Majiayao culture
Qujialing culture
Longshan culture
Baodun culture
Shijiahe culture
Yueshi culture
Neolithic Tibet
South Asia
Marine archaeology in the Gulf of Cambay
Chopani Mando
Other locations
Jeulmun pottery period
Jōmon period
Philippine jade culture
Capsian culture
Savanna Pastoral Neolithic

farming, animal husbandry
pottery, metallurgy, wheel
circular ditches, henges, megaliths
Neolithic religion
Neolithic decline


The Neolithic decline was a rapid collapse in populations between five and six thousand years ago (approximately 3000 BC) during the Neolithic period in western Eurasia. The specific causes of that broad population decline are still debated.[1] While heavily-populated settlements were regularly created, abandoned, and resettled during the Neolithic, after around 5400 years ago, a great number of those settlements were permanently abandoned.[1] The population decline is associated with worsening agricultural conditions and a decrease in cereal production.[2] Other suggested causes include the emergence of communicable diseases spread from animals living in close quarters with humans.[1]


Rascovan et al (2019) suggest that plague could have also caused the population decline.[3] That is supported by the discovery of a tomb in modern-day Sweden containing 79 corpses buried within a short time, in which the authors discovered fragments of a unique strain of the plague pathogen Yersinia pestis.[1][4][5] The authors note that the strain contained the "plasminogen activator gene that is sufficient to cause pneumonic plague", an extremely deadly form of the plague which is airborne and directly communicable between humans.[6]

A similar site was found in China in 2011. The site Hamin Mangha in northeast China dates back to approximately 5000 years ago and features a small structure filled with almost 100 bodies. This could mean the location faced an outbreak that surpassed what the village could handle. Two other sites like these have been found in Northeast China: Miaozigou and Laijia,[7][8] but archaeologists did not speculate as to the causal agent.[9]

Conditions for the population increase that preceded that decline are generally ascribed to rapid population growth between 5950 and 5550 BP. That growth was catalysed by the introduction of agriculture,[2] along with the spread of technologies such as pottery, the wheel, and animal husbandry.[1] Following the Neolithic decline were massive human migrations from the Eurasian Steppe into eastern and central Europe, in approximately 4600 BP.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rascovan et al. 2019, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b Colledge et al. 2019, p. 1.
  3. ^ Rascovan et al. 2019, p. 2.
  4. ^ Zhang, Sarah. "An Ancient Case of the Plague Could Rewrite History". The Atlantic. The Atlantic. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  5. ^ Rascovan et al. 2019, p. 2.
  6. ^ Rascovan et al. 2019, p. 7.
  7. ^ "The excavation of the Neolithic site at Hamin Mangha in Horqin Left Middle Banner, Inner Mongolia in 2011". Chinese Archaeology. 14 (1): 10–17. 2014-11-17. doi:10.1515/char-2014-0002. ISSN 2160-5068.
  8. ^ Leafloor, Liz (27 July 2015). "Prehistoric Disaster: Nearly 100 Bodies Found Stacked in Ancient House in China". Ancient Origins. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  9. ^ Jarus, Owen (27 Jul 2015). "Gruesome Find: 100 Bodies Stuffed into Ancient House". Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  10. ^ Rascovan et al. 2019, p. 5-6.