2012-09-25 The First Great Transition - The Neolithic Revolution.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2137
Cameron Harrington

The First Great Transition: The Neolithic Revolution September 25, 2012 -transition from primitive, hunter-gatherer society and cavemen to -human societies gradually formed in connection with the world -slow social evolutions -3 central transitions: -1. Neolithic revolution -2. industrial revolution -3. digital revolution? -how exactly we get to where we are today. Where do we come from? The First Great Transition  99% of human history is the history of hunting and gathering societies  Domestication of plants and animals  food surpluses  permanent settlements development of cities  rise of religious and military elites  Costs come for the many who provided food for the few and to the ecosystems on which they depended. -very first forms of human life (not homo sapiens) existed about 2 million years ago -reading: said 7 million years ago, existing human life existed -99% human history = history of hunting and gathering societies (vast majority of human history) -only past few thousand years that human history has progressed and moved to a more sedentary lifestyle (situated in one place, living off of props and agriculture) -people lived in small mobile groups and roamed the earth -people lived in deserts, dry lands, marshlands, arctic tundra, ice age Europe -30,000 years: homo sapiens spread around the world -gradually, we have a slow revolution: Neolithic Revolution (“new stone”), starting about 10,000 BC -we see first domestication of plants, animals, first food surpluses, leading to permanent settlement -people needed to attend to the food that was growingleads to settlement -morphs into bigger communities: from villages to towns to cities -progression of social hierarchy for creation and rise of elites within society (specifically religion and military) Social and environmental costs -civilization we learned about all came about in a situation where there was a vast majority of people who only produced food for themselves and the elites -rapid expansion of populationmuch more larger impact on environment -ecological footprint started to be made around that time Hunting and gathering  Almost all of human history has been hunting and gathering societies  roamed the earth in small groups  gradual Neolithic Revolution (9500 BC)  “Gobekli Tepe – The world’s first temple? Built 11,500 years ago—7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization.” -Gobekli Tepe: first human sight of worship -everything was mobile following the herd -once permanent settlements grow (huts, fields, etc.), we see sights of worship starting to grow -social development where we have religion to accompany human society -Neolithic revolution: important for the development of social and religious traditions that we still hold today Life begins for our species  EastAfrica, 2-4 million years ago. 200,000 years ago homo sapiens emerge.  Gradually inhabit a tropical/semi-tropical belt from Ethiopia to S.Africa.  Our ancestors develop the skills (fire; making of warm clothing; constructing temporary shelter; and weapons for hunting and skinning game)  -Groups were small (usually an extended family size of 25-50 people) -beginnings of human life came from EastAfrica -humans have always been interconnected -humans interact with ecosystems -humans evolve; ecosystems evolve with them; occurred for thousands and thousands of years -hard to pinpoint when humans arose -vast majority of fossil remains were located in EastAfrica -2-4 million years ago: homo erectus -first upright, walking ape-like human species -200,000 years ago: modern humans (homo sapiens) merged -they start to migrate toAsia, Europe,Australia, NorthAmerica, SouthAmerica -life for hunting and gathering society was more complex -rarely prone to starvation or disease -they had nutritious and adequate diet that was diverse -they only worked for 3 hours a day (rest of the time just -they have very few wants -concept of desire rarely seen -no conception in society of ownership, (food ownership, land ownership, property ownership) Social conventions in hunter-gatherer society  population control by infanticide (frequent) and eldercide;  lengthy breast feeding/delayed weaning  sharing of the proceeds of hunting and gathering (very strong social conventions)  egalitarian  Matriarchal  homo sapiens and nature -all groups had to make sure that the population was small -certain societal conventions that ensured them -you need to have small numbers so it doesn’t overtax resources or overburden the group -group must be very mobile (able to move easily) -infanticide: killing babies and infants) -proof that specific children were killed -twins and female infants were killed or handicapped -other social conventions: lengthy breast feeding -longer breast feeding = you don’t need as much food -3-5 years breastfeed -a form of birth control: if you breast feed = less likely to be pregnant too soon -all of these help control population: prevent undue burden on the resource that sustains the group and make sure the group is mobile (can move) -egalitarian nature of hunter-gatherer society -not hierarchical -there wasn‘t a single leader -no concept of private or personal property -predominantly matriarchal -women-centered -women play more dominant role = -1. concept of family different than our concept of family -2. society: women who gather food were much more productive -when you go hunting = dangerous -success rate of hunting was 1 in 10 -tribe and group much more independent -twice as much food comes from gathering than from hunting -hunter-gatherer society and its relationship with environment and nature -impact on environment – they changed the environment to suit their needs -they have a much closer relationship with nature than agricultural society and modern society -they lived an interconnected life -most of the time, they are mobile groups; they don’t stay in one place to make a big impact on the environment -they did have an impact on natural environments around them -this change occurred is miniscule Life begins for our species  small groups would join with other kin for short periods  for example to pool numbers for hunting  H-G groups see themselves as part of the natural world, but were willing to alter it  not entirely harmonious life  the environment was often harshly treated but the hunting and gathering lifestyle provided time for recovery  earth supported as many as 4,000,000 people in this manner -Louise Leakey digs for humanity’s origins video -shift from hunter-gatherer lifestyle to agricultural lifestyle -30 to 15,000 years ago -people started to shift places -we have adapted to Earth’s different ecosystems, climate, etc. 4 central traits human possess that no species have -1. larger brains -2. ability to stand upright -3. ability to communicate via speech and other forms -4. adoption of technological tools -use of complex tools set humans apart from other species -took millions of years to accomplish -people did form together to form larger groups – not the norm -just to pool resources, etc. -relationship with nature -hunter gatherer had a more harmonious relationship with nature -hunter-gathering did not need knowledge of specific local resource; their activities did alter environment -changes created was a much smaller scale – they didn’t burn fields that modified the ecosystem -small-scale changes -earliest stages: humans were willing to alter the environment for their own use -this type of life was so long-lasting and stable Where we began  The late Louis Leakey measures skull found in Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. -famous archaeologist Louis Leakey -Kenyan -late 1950s -he found human-like fossils -granddaughter: Louise Leakey, also famous archaeologist -we all have commonAfrican ancestry -if other species die out, we have
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