For several million years — almost the entire human journey — our ancestors survived by hunting and gathering. Until 10,000 years ago, everything on our menu was wild food. By 2,000 years ago, most of our food came from farms, a rapid and radical change. In his book The Food Crisis in Prehistory, archaeologist and anthropologist Mark Nathan Cohen explored two questions. Why did we switch to agriculture? Why did this shift occur, around the world, almost simultaneously?His answer to both ques [...]
I read only the first two chapters of this work, which outline Cohen's thesis broadly. I didn't want to spend the time to dig through the archaeological evidence he musters to support his thesis, which is the bulk of the book, of course.The thesis is elegant and simple: hunter-gatherers are by and large familiar with the techniques of agriculture (its "discovery" is a misnomer) and have little incentive to adopt it. The only benefit agriculture has, at least initially, over foraging, is the abil [...]
I read this book in the 1980's, but it has made a lasting impression on me at the time, both because of his research and because of the intuitive nature of his hypothesis.Before agriculture, humans were hunters and gatherers. Logically, it makes sense that there are only so many people that you could support on this technology, just because there are only so many wild animals and edible plants in the world. And as we look at prehistory, we see that many large mammal species go extinct right abou [...]
The broadly convincing thesis of this book is that agriculture developed globally as a response to overpopulation and dwindling food resources, in contradiction to population models depicting human societies as existing naturally below their maximum carrying capacity. The argument is briefly stated and outlined, and at this point I felt it was quite plausible. The rest of the book is a very dry accumulation of details in support of the argument. Although much of this went over my head, I did enj [...]
En resumen: La agricultura surgió como respuesta a la presión demográfica, y no por la mejora en la tecnología o el conocimiento de las técnicas de cultivo pues estas ya eran conocidas por los pueblos cazadores y recolectores.