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    Ogre in the Playground
    Deepbluediver's Avatar

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    Oct 2011
    The US of A

    Default Re: Smallest population able to maintain regular sacrifices?

    I remember reading somewhere that a population generally needed to start out with about 500 individuals (assuming a gender-equal ratio) in order to have the necessary genetic diversity to avoid going extinct through inbreeding. I can't recall exactly where I read that though, or if they provided any other sorts details, but you might take that as the bare-minimum size for a viable, community, IF your goal is "be fruitful and multiply".
    But that's a pretty small "city"- more like a village or something. The town of Whittier, Alaska, manages to cram about 300 people into a single modern apartment building, just if you want to look up something to give you a sense of the scale we're talking about.

    In purely mathmatical sense (this may get a little gruesome, but since you asked about human sacrifice...), if you assume that each woman could produce 1 child per year, then a population of 13 (12 women plus 1 man) would provide sufficient offspring for monthly sacrifices. Of course if you're sacrificing ALL the children, then eventually your population dies of old-age. But the addition of just 1 more woman, producing 1 extra child a year, would likely be enough to keep a breeding-population alive. At least until the incest killed them off instead; if you curious about that aspect of it, your can read more about the Hapsburg dynasty in Spain, and the Romanovs in Russia.

    One more thing to consider is that in medieval times (or in any technologically equivalent society), many women died in childbirth and many of their offspring didn't survive childhood, so if you need to sacrifice full-grown adults then the issue is tougher. If you can sacrifice babies (and maybe the elderly) though, you could get away with fewer people.
    Or since you society has magic you could probably write "a wizard did it" to negate that issue. In fact if your society is trying to remain small, it would make sense the "magic to ease childbirth" would probably be the second highest priority after "magic to grow crops" in the survival sense.

    I think the only real question is how long do you need your city to exist for your story to work (or to tell the story that you want to tell). A handful of men and a few dozen women could easily survive for up to a century, assuming nothing like a plague wipes them out. That's the major issue with small populations- a lack of genetic diversity means they may all be susceptible to the same problems. For long-term (permanent) survival, a few dozen men and 150-200 adult women (plus however many kids they had) could probably keep it going as long as you need it to. Again assuming no outside disasters like plague or civil-war reduce their population below a point where they can't rebuild their numbers.
    Last edited by Deepbluediver; 2021-09-09 at 02:43 PM.
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