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Old 05-29-2017, 12:34 PM
DSeid DSeid is online now
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 20,011
Originally Posted by Machinaforce View Post
I heard that initially hunting and gathering expended less energy, which makes me wonder why people would pick up farming if the alternative was less energy consuming?
Originally Posted by MrDibble View Post
Climate change (in the Levant. And Central Mexico. But probably not elsewhere) That and a ready beer supply.
In case anyone thinks that that last bit is not serious, here is a bit more of an in depth analysis of the beer hypothesis. It is not a joke.

Beer and feasts went together. And feasts, with alcohol, served symbiotic religious and political functions. Beer helped make alliances and fostered trade.

But the phrasing of "why" invites one to imagine conscious choices; the reality is that some did and the issue is more "how" the farming model outcompeted the hunter-gatherer one. Once the idea was adopted groups that farmed out reproduced and out-survived those that more exclusively practiced hunter-gatherer lifestyles who either mostly died off or switched to a similar agricultural model themselves.

As the op's cite points out, first but not least, an agricultural model was much more conducive to have more children and having more of them survive to reproduction age themselves than was the HG lifestyle.

It also sparked new tool-making skills to make hoes and such (including several thousand years in, the wheel) ... skills that could then also be applied to creating new weapons to defend the crops, deter attempts to steal, and possibly take others' crops and other goods. Those with feast facilitated politico-religious alliances were able to be the bigger and baddest at applying those skills and new tools as well. Violence between groups certainly occurred before agriculture but agriculture raised the stakes and began the offensive-defensive-deterrent arms races we still see today. And alcohol was no doubt served at peace talks.

More than Cain-Abel, the Jacob-Esau myth might even more have its origins in symbolic reflection of then not too distant past history conflicts between the models, with the more conniving Jacob the farmer prevailing and giving rise to a nation-state. Esau sold his birthright for some bread and lentil stew when he was hungry, and of note, alcohol was part of how Jacob tricked Issac!