Sunday, November 05, 2006

This is to be the first in a series of posts surrounding civilisation.

Revolution aint enough.

A quick overview of the past ten thousand years.

Hunter Gatherers Civilisation is thought to be a least partially a product of agriculture with the conventional theory going something like this. Humans slowly started growing plants with seeds gathered nearby springing up around semi permanant settlements. Gradually people started planting seeds and started relying on these human planted crops for survival. This process may have taken many thousands of years and many groups of people got some way along the path of relying on human planted crops while others came to rely almost solely on these crops.

The modern kind of agriculture we are all familiar with is thought to have arisen 10,000-12,000 years ago. Things began to change humans gave up the lifestyle that had served them well for their entire existence and switched over to a new radically different way of life.

To fully appreciate the magnitude of these changes some background knowledge of our existence is in order.

For 99.6% of our existence we lived as hunter gatherers, as hunter gatherers we relied on the wild plants and animals in our surrounding environment, lived in fairly small bands not thought to be more than 100 people and lived a semi nomadic existence moving from place to place after food and as seasons and climates changed.

Living in small groups and not predating soley on one food source we had a fairly low impact on our environment – we drove few species extinct, had few major environmental disasters and certainly few toxic waste spills. We had a fairly constant population level with very little rapid growth even in productive areas. Population control was active - refraining from sex and abortion were both probably tools used to maintain a population suitable for the environment.

And contrary to the starving wretches we now think of as "primitive peoples" these hunter gatherers had a fairly high standard of life, one which was certainly not the “short brutish” lies spread by by philosophers and missionaries. For starters their diet was high in protein and with a wide mixed balance of minerals - it exceeds that of the modern man or womyn this was a result of the incredibly varied diet with for example between 3000 and 5000 plants gathered as food in North America.

"Work" hours were fairly few, in many cases no more than 2 or 3 hours a day; evidence of some anthropologists point to the fact they might not have even considered these few hours work at all. Life span was definitely longer than those agriculturalists that followed with bodys of early agriculturalists showing considerable stress from famine and the hard lifestyle necessary to survive as an agriculturalist. Study’s of remaining hunter gatherer groups show that hierarchy was probably limited with no one that was not involved in getting food and no full time rulers or priests.

As semi nomadic people it would have been impossible to build up any significant personal wealth and long term settlements were impossible in all but the most naturally productive regions, these two facts made private property and even the concept of private property non existent. Concepts of territory were firmly entrenched in these peoples minds though. Hunter gatherers are also less vulnerable to famine than agriculturalists as a wider food base buffers them from any failure of one crop. This is startlingly evident in the skeletons of hunter gatherers compared to agriculturalists with those of the agriculturalists showing signs of regular food shortage.

next the rise of agriculture

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