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Old 05-29-2017, 02:04 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 13,066
Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
That's not a valid generalization. For one thing, you're overlooking the agricultural societies outside of Eurasia and Egypt. There were of course major agricultural centers in Mesoamerica and the Andes. One of the earliest centers of crop domestication was New Guinea. Many crops were also domesticated in the Amazon basin in South America.

The interesting thing to me is that crop domestication seems to have begun almost simultaneously between 11,000 and 9,000 in widely scattered parts of the world in quite different climates, just after the end of the Pleistocene at the end of the Ice Ages. Humans seem to have started to domesticate crops as soon as the climate stabilized enough to make conditions somewhat predictable in particular areas.
This detail fascinates me also. For say, 60,000 years, from the last population bottleneck until about 12,000 years ago, everyone seems to have hunted and gathered. then within about 5,000 years, several societies at once seem to have evolved to agriculture. Plus, the population in the Americas, who had been isolated from the rest for about 25,000 years and definitely isolated for the last 12,000 or so, also began raising crops within about 5000 years too. It can't all be climate - the Ice Age just means the prime agricultural areas should have been a few thousand miles further south. IIRC, the Sahara would have been grass plains, for example.

Originally Posted by blindboyard View Post
Pastoralism was a later development than agriculture.

Animal domestication is just as lengthy a process as plant domestication and the first domesticated animals were dogs, used for hunting other animals.

Early humans weren't nomadic, they tended to stick in one place. No animals to carry things for them, relying on intimate knowledge of sources of food and clean water, they found somewhere good and stayed there. The seaside was very popular, lots of shell fish and similar food sources.

In some parts of the world there were plants and animals that lent themselves to change through selection by humans, so they ended up with humans planting patches of fruitful crops, and eventually selecting for certain characteristics and bringing animals into the fold.

Some people then became nomads after they came into possession of animals capable of carrying burdens and carrying or dragging humans.
I assume this also - to domesticate food animals efficiently, especially the large ones, and especially in significant numbers you would want fences and corrals. Domestication was a progressive process of culling the uppity animals and breeding the tranquil ones, plus selecting for most productive food production. that's not something hunter tribal groups of 20 or 30 can do on their own. But once the farmers had corralled and bred a bunch of goats or ox, I'm sure some guy visiting from the outback said "I want some of those..." and it was ideal for the grazing land that they roamed; breeding food was easier than trying to find new food all the time.

Dogs (and cats) were a special case, animals that hung around - dogs scavenged off the garbage piles, and the less skittish eventually found that hanging around with humans resulted in a good meal; as cats found that hanging around the farm granaries meant they got a convenient diet of mice.

Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
Once out of Africa, humans spread across Asia (and later Europe) like wildfire. You don't do that by sticking to one place.
Consider the spread through the Americas. 13,000 miles from one end to the other. To do that distance in, say, 1,000 years, groups would have to travel 13 miles a year. Hardly a break-neck speed. They probably went that far in one hunting trip.

I would see two factors at work - as soon as the tribe hit a pocket of very fertile, very lush landscape, they would spread very quickly to cover the entire territory and keep going. Plus, within a generation or two they would exceed the carrying capacity of the land and head out in search of newer pastures... literally.

(For a description of the wildlife to be found in a relatively untamed land, read Farley Mowat's "Sea of Slaughter" if you can find it - and keep in mind, this describes the St. Lawrence valley and gulf, and much of the rest North America, after centuries or more of fairly intense agricultural settlement, just no firearms. Or read about the size of the buffalo herds in the great plains - where it could take days for the entire herd to go past observers.)