Archaeology-Lecture 5-Origins and Consequences of Food Production Nov 27 2008

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23 Aug 2010
Lecture Notes
Origins and Consequences of Food Production
After the Pleistocene
x Ca. 12,000 BC, we see the following changes
o Glaciers retreat/sea levels
o Temperatures increase
o Humidity increases
o Some plant and animal species (ex: megafauna) disappear
x Many groups adapted by broadening their resource bases
o Ex: Mesolithic groups in Europe, Near East
x Increased fish, shellfish, small mammals seeds and nuts
x Later people began to intensify their exploitation of certain resources
o Ex: 8,000 BC in the Near east (SW Asia)
o Ex: 7,000 BC in Mesoamerica
x Result: populations increased size, greater degrees of sedentism
x Soon groups began selectively exploiting some plant and animal species
x This marks the transition from food collection to food production
Origins and Consequences of Food Production
x What is Food Production?
o Systematic interference with a food supply
o Increase in energy, but in some cases less land
x Two Interactive Processes (Consequences)
o Changes in plant and animal physiology
o Changes in human lifestyles
x Systematic interference in plants . . .
o Seeds become larger
o Higher yield per unit area
o Loss of natural seed dispersal mechanisms; tougher rachis in wheat, barely, and
o Crop harvested more successfully
x Definitions: Horticulture, Agriculture, Pastoralism
o Dependence on cultivation and/or animal husbandry for a majority of diet
o Horticulture
Cultivation of plants with simple hand tools
Minimal interference with land and water
Minimal animal husbandry
o Agriculture
Draft animals
o Pastoralism
Dependence on animal husbandry for survival
x Changes in Human Lifeways (Material)
o Harvesting- new tools
o Processing- new tools
Stockpiling of food for leaner months
o Harvesting: scapula shovel (Hemudu, China), microblades, sickle (Near East)
o Processing and Storage: mortar and pestle (grinding implements), pottery
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