ANT 2410 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Optimal Foraging Theory, Copyright Collective, Neolithic Revolution

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Subsistence in Anthropology
February 7, 2017
Five Major Food Gathering Strategies
Food foraging and collection
o Collecting vegetation, hunting animals, and fishing
Horticulture
o Plant cultivations with simple tools and small plots of land, relying solely on
human power
Pastoralism
o Keeping domesticated animals and using their parts as a major food source
o Subsistence shepherds use every part of the animal (blood, milk, viscera, etc)
Intensive agriculture
o Horticulture using animals or mechanical power and some form of irrigation
o Using oxen to pull plows or wagons to help with farming
Industrialization agriculture
o The production of food through complex machinery
o Utilizes combines, tractors, and other equipment to harvest crops
Example) tree shakers to get almonds
Foraging (Food Collection)
This is defined as a food-collection strategy that obtains wild plants and animal
resources through gathering, hunting, scavenging, or fishing
Foragers in the world today are hunter-gatherers
o Usually seen in remote locations in societies with less complex technology
o Typically, gathering would make up more of the diet than hunting would
Plant material, nuts, berries, etc.
Optimal foraging theory
o People will choose to eat certain foods depending on the nutritional value, ease
of acquisition, and ease of preparation
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Characteristics of food collecting societies
o Low population densities
o Usually nomadic or semi nomadic rather than sedentary
Follows the food supply
o The basic social unit is the family or the band
o Land carrying capacity
Environment has to be able to sustain the population of the people
How many people can the food supply support before starvation starts
occurring
o For about 99% of human history this is how we survived
o Contemporary food-collecting peoples occupy the remote and marginally useful
areas of the earth
Pushed out by other people
o Food is shared among the group
Whoever finds the food has first dibs, but then it is equally distributed
These societies usually do not have a chief or head, so it is more equal
Human Adaptation
Adaptation occurs when humans change the natural environment, and when the natural
environment changes human biology
o We also are good at using technology to exist in inhospitable places
Humans adapt to climate in two ways
o Culturally
Technological advances
o Biologically
Neolithic Revolution: Food Producing Societies
The change from hunting and gathering to the start of food production
o Began 10,000 years ago
Humans began to cultivate crops and keep herds of animals
o Also led to the boom of use of tools needed to keep crops
Hoes, plows, etc.
o Main animals kept were sheep and goats at first
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