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Archaeology-Chapter 12-Origin of Food Production and Settled Life Nov 27 2008

5 pages90 viewsFall 2008

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Marcel Danesi

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Chapter 12: Origin of Food Production and Settled Life
y Beginning ~14K YA, ppl began to depend less on big game hunting and more- relatively
stationed food resources (fish, shellfish, small game, wild plants)
y Europe/Near East which these developments took place is called the Mesolithic
y Fist clear switch over to food production- the cultivation and domestication of plants and
animals in Near East (8000 BC)-> ³Neolithic Revolution´
y Sedentism: settling in a single, permanent location
Food Collection and Production
y Food Collection: all forms of subsistence technology in which food-getting is dependent on
naturally occurring resources- wild plants and animals
y Subsistence Technology: the methods human use to procure food
y Foragers: ppl who subsist on the collection of naturally occurring plants and animals- also
referred to as hunter and gatherers- live in
areas of earth (deserts, artic, tropical
y Food production: the form of subsistence technology in which food getting is dependent on
the cultivation and domestication of plants and animals
y Horticulture: plant cultivation carried out with relatively simple tools and methods, nature
replaces nutrients in the soil, in the absence of permanently cultivated fields
y (1) Shifting Cultivation: a type of horticulture in which the land is worked for short
periods and then left to regenerate for some years before being used again
y (2) Slash and Burn Techniques: a form of shifting cultivation in which the natural
vegetation is cut down and burned off. The cleared ground is used for a short time and
hen left again
y Most horticultures do not rely on crops alone for food- many hunt and fish
y Raise domesticated animals- cattle, camels, pigs, goat, sheep
y Horticulture society- simple farming techniques have tended to yield more food form a given
area than is generally available to food collectors- therefore HC can support larger , densely
populated communities
Intensive Agriculture
y Intensive Agriculture: food production characterized by the permanent cultivation of fields
and made possible by the use of the plow, draft animals or machines, fertilizers, irrigation,
water storage techniques, and other complex agricultural techniques
Pre-Agricultural Develops
y Environmental changes (melting of glaciers-> dense mixed forests)- induced some pops in
Europe to alter food getting strategies
y No longer obtain large quantities of meat- intensive collecting of wild plants, molluscs, fish,
small game
y The Maglemosian Culture of Northern Europe
y Settlers of N Europe- Maglemosians
y To deal with new forests-> made stones axes to chop down trees and form them into various
objects- Canoes, paddles (which were used for travel, fishing)
y Depended mainly on hunting for food (elk, wild ox, deer, wild pig)
y Tool kit included B&A
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The Near East
y Shift from mobile game eating to utilization of a broad spectrum of natural resources
y Sedentism
y Wild wheat harvested- some set aside for immediate consumption- rest; stored to supply the
remainder of the year
y Grain diet= construction of roasters, grinders, storage pits by some Mesolithic ppl- as well as
solid, fairly permanent housing
y Once village was built- ppl reluctant to leave
y The Natufians of the Near East
y Inhibited caves and rock shelters- built villages on the slopes of Mount Carmel in Israel
y Eynan: stratified site containing remains of three villages in sequence- one atop another
y Each village- 50 circular pit houses
y Tool suggest- Natufians harvested wild grain intensively
y Stored surplus crop (in plastered storage pits)
y Exploited hunting animals such as gazelles
y Food collection based not only on a intensive use of stationary resources but increasing social
y These sites were on average 5 times larger than predecessors
y Burial patterns suggest more social differences between ppl
y Although wild cereal resources appear to have enabled the Natufians to live in permanent
villages- their diet seemed to suffer- nutritional deficiency found in tooth enamel
y Palaeo- Indian period- 10k YA
y Ppl began to expand the range of plants and animals they relied upon
y The Archaic Peoples of Highland Mesoamerica
y Shift from big game hunting to broader use of resources
y About 8K YA archaic ppls- moved seasonally between communities of two different sizes=
y (1) Macrobands: 15-30 residents
y (2) Microbands: 2-5 residents
y Macrobands- located near seasonally abundant resources, Microbands- were inhibited
seasonally; by single family
y No evidence of social differences among the Archaic ppls of highland Mesoamerica
y Lifestyles remained much like the simple and egalitarian ones of the Palaeo-Indians, despite
the transition to a much broader strategy of food collection
Other Areas
y Also shifted from hunting big game to collecting many types of food before they apparently
began to practice agriculture
y Such changed occurred in SE Asia
y Africa- warmer weather, wetter environment; lakes, provided abundance of fish etc, that
allowed people to settle more permanently
y Americas- exploit variety of wild food resources
Why Did Broad-Spectrum Collecting Develop?
y Pre-agricultural switch to broad spectrum collecting- common throughout world
y Climate change-> exploitation of new resources (ex: rise in sea level-> n fish/shellfish),
(ex2: p big game)
y Overkill
Broad-Spectrum Collecting and Sedentism
y Switch to broad spectrum collecting accounts for increasing Sedentism in many areas
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