1 Geographic predictors of early 20th century northern Albanian tribal demography


  • Elic M Weitzel Erina Baci Daniel Plekhov Author


Historical demography, population ecology, Balkans, fis, Robert Elsie


As tribal social structures have long been prevalent in our species, understanding the drivers of tribal demography is of great importance. Here, we explore the potential effects of several geographic factors on population size among early 20th century northern Albanian tribes.Through a model comparison analysis of population data from forty-six tribes, we investigate how tribal population size was influenced by slope, net primary productivity, water availability, number of neighboring tribes, and distance to urban centers. Our results suggest that while slope and the number of neighboring tribes are the best available predictors, their overall ability to predict Albanian tribal population size in the early 20th century is poor. An unexplored factor such as tribal wealth (in terms of land, livestock, infrastructure, or marriage alliances) could be a more important driver of population size, but it is perhaps most likely that decades of conflict in the late 19th and early 20th centuries reshaped the demographic landscape of northern Albania and obscured any pre-existing geographic influences on tribal demography.

Author Biography

  • Elic M Weitzel Erina Baci Daniel Plekhov

    Elic Weitzel is a human ecologist and archaeologist completing his Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut. He previously earned his M.S. from the University of Utah and his B.A. from Dickinson College. His research concerns human behavioral and population ecology, specifically the interactions between demography and natural resource use.

    Erina Baci is an anthropological archaeologist completing her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan. She earned her M.A. from Mississippi State University and her B.A. from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on questions of settlement, mobility, and connectivity in the Balkans.

    Daniel Plekhov is a landscape archaeologist focused on studying the long-term development of agricultural landscapes through the use of survey, remote sensing, and spatial analyses. He completed his Ph.D. at Brown University and has previously worked in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, and Peru. He is currently an adjunct instructor in the departments of Anthropology and Geography at Portland State University. 



29-12-2023 — Updated on 29-12-2023