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Chapter 14

Textbook Chapter 14 Notes

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Heather Miller

Notes From Reading CHAPTER 14:F OOD P RODUCTION (339-372) Learning Objectives  Explain the important difference between domestication and agriculture  Compare and contrast environmental and cultural theories that explain the beginning of farming and herding  Identify and explain the major kinds of archaeological evidence that researchers use as indicators of early plant and animal domestication  Explain the major ways in which the development of farming and herding differed in the Old and New Worlds Introduction  By the end of the last Ice Age, humans were living in most of the world’s inhabitable places  Two of the most profound and far-reaching developments of later prehistory were the shift from hunting and gathering to food production and the emergence of the early civilizations The Neolithic Revolution  Neolithic Revolution – Childe’s term for the far-reaching consequences of food production  The change from hunting and gathering to agriculture is often called the Neolithic revolution  Farmers employed nature to produce only those crops and animals that humans selected for heir own exclusive purposes  Neolithic – New Stone Age; period of farmers  Neolithic activities had other far-reach consequences, including new settlement patterns, new technologies and significant biocultural effects  Childe argued that maintaining field and herds demanded a long-term commitment from early farmers  Obliged to stay in one area, Neolithic people became more or less settles, or sedentary  As storable harvests gradually supported larger and more permanent communities, towns and cities developed in a few areas  Within these larger settlements, fewer people were directly involved in food production, and new craft specializations emerged (cloth weaving, pottery production and metallurgy) o Craft Specializations – An economic system in which some individuals do not engage in food production, but devote their labor to the production of other goods and services. IE. Potters, carpenters, smiths, shamen, oracles, and teachers.  Sedentism could often stimulate food production, and even Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers were perfectly capable of understanding how to manipulate the life histories of plants and animals to their advantage  Diffusion – the idea that widely distributed cultural traits originated in a single center and spread form one group to another through contact or exchange Explaining the Origins of Domestication and Agriculture  Mesolithic/ Epipaleolithic and Archaic hunter-gatherers had a wealth of practical everyday knowledge and understanding about the natural world around them  Neolithic farmers were mostly the recipients of domesticated species and agricultural ways from their predecessors Defining Agriculture and Domestication  Domestication – A state of interdependence between humans and selected plant or animal species. Intense selection activity induces permanent genetic change, enhancing a species’ value to humans o Domestication is an evolutionary process o When a certain plant or animal is said to be domesticated, it means that there’s interdependency between this organism and humans o To achieve and maintain this, genetic transformation of a wild species by selective breeding or other ways of interfering, intentionally or not, with a species’ natural life process  Agriculture – Cultural activities associated with planting, herding and processing domesticated species; farmers o It’s a cultural activity o Involves the propagation and exploitation of domesticated plants and animals by humans o Includes all the activities associated with both farming and animal herding  Symbiosis – Mutually advantageous association of two different organisms; also known as mutualism Environmental Approaches  Through their efforts, farmers attempt to increase he land’s carrying capacity by harnessing more of its energy for the production of crops or animals that will feed people Notes From Reading CHAPTER 14:F OOD P RODUCTION (339-372)  Environmental approaches call to mind environmental determinism, the notion that certain cultural outcomes can be predicted from a combination of purely environmental causes  Humans, animals, and vegetation in the drought areas concentrated into shrinking zones around a few permanent water sources  Oases – Permanent springs or water holes in an arid region  Pollen and sediment profiles now confirm that at least some of the climatic changes hypothesized by Childe did occur in parts of the Near East prior to Neolithic times o They may have had a role in fostering new relationships between humans and other species in this marginal environment  The ecologically disruptive activities of farmers and her animals during the Neolithic period may have contributed to the destructive process of desertification o Desertification – Any process resulting in the formation of growth of deserts  Horticulture – Farming method in which only hand tools are used; typical of most early Neolithic societies  Binford’s “packing model” develops one such hypothesis involving demographic stress o Demographic – Pertaining to the size or rate of increase of human populations  As modern climate conditions became established in the early Holocene, people resided in every prime habitat in the temperate regions of Eurasia  As population stress would quickly reach critical levels in the marginal environments, where resources were already sparse, it was here that the domesticated plants were first developed  Grain and roots became increasingly important in the Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic diet and not only when the more desirable foods were in short supply  Environmental approaches identify forces external to humans as the active ingredients in the development of agriculture Cultural Approaches  Human agency and culture alone may be sufficient and necessary to explain many of the fundamental changed documented in the archaeological record  According to Braidwood’s “nuclear zone” or “hilly flanks” hypothesis, the wild ancestors of common domesticated plants and animals in the Near East were in the foot hills of mountains o Not around the oases (which this where they should have been if Childe’s oasis theory was correct) o Domestication and agriculture happened when “culture was ready”  Cultural approaches to explain the origins of domestication and agriculture assume an active role for human agency and tend to discount, if not deny completely, the importance of natural or environmental, factors From Collecting to Cultivating  We have no reason to believe that the origins of domestication and agriculture can be explained only by natural forced or only by cultural factors  Rachis – the short stem by which an individual seed attaches to the main stalk of a plant as it develops  Even without human interference, wild cereal grasses tended to be susceptible to natural genetic modification, since the plants grew together in dense patches, were highly polytypic, and were quick to reproduce  As the genetic variants became isolated from the general wild population, each subsequent harvest advanced the “selection” process in favor of the same desirable traits  Human manipulation became an evolutionary force in modifying the species, a process Darwin labeled “unconscious selction”  A consequence of domestication is that the pant species becomes dependent on humans to disperse its seeds  Cultigen – A plant that is wholly dependent on humans; a domesticate Archaeological Evidence for Domestication and Agriculture  Barker argues that the change from hunting and gathering to agriculture “was the most profound revolution in human history”  Humans independently domesticated local species and developed agriculture in several geographically separate regions relatively soon after the Ice Age ended  Domestication of a local species or two would not necessarily trigger the enormous biocultural consequences we usually associate with the Neolithic period in the Near East  Agriculture didn’t develop fully until people were exploiting a mosaic of plants (sometimes animals) from different location, brought together in various combinations o To meet cultural requirements as nutrition, palatability, hardiness, yield, processing ease and storage Notes From Reading CHAPTER 14:F OOD P RODUCTION (339-372) Plants  Domestication and agriculture were independently invented in different regions around the world  Archaeobotanical – Referring to the analysis and interpretation of the remains of ancient plants recovered from the archaeological record  Plant Macrofossils – Plants parts such as seed, nutshells, and stems that have been preserved in the archaeological record and are large enough to be clearly visible to the naked eye  Macrofossils often help the reconstructing of hunter-gatherers plant use patterns, identifying farming locations, and determining the precise nature of harvested crops  The major shortcomings of macrofossils tend to be preserved because they were charred before entering the archaeological record  Plant Microfossils – Small to microscopic plant remains, most falling in a range of 10 to 100 micrometers, or roughly the size of individual grains of wheat flour in the bag from your grocer’s shelf o Pollen – Microscopic grains containing the male gametes of seed-producing plants o Phytoliths – Microscopic silica structures formed in the cells of many plants o Starch Grains – Subcellular strucutres that form in all plant parts and can be classified by family or genus; particularly abundant in seeds and tubers o These often survive even where macrofossils can’t  Pollen grains have been a valuable source of environmental and subsistence data for decades o They’re abundant; the grains are taxonomically distinctive; the outer shell of each grain is tough; wind- borne dispersal of pollen from seed-producing plants continues before, during and after humans occupy particular archaeological sites  The main shortcoming of pollen grains tend to preserve poorly in many kinds of open sites o Depending on soil acidity, moisture, drainage and weathering  Phytoliths are taxonomically distinctive (like pollen)  Microfossil analyses complement and greatly extend the valuable insights that archaeobotanists have achieved through the study of macrofossils  Researchers are now able to more completely understand the prehistory of the human use of plants and the beginnings of agriculture Animals  The process of animal domestication differed from plant domestication (probably varied even from one animal species to another)  The dog was the first domesticated animals; mtDNA evidence suggests an origin between 40,000 and 15,000 ya
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