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Old 05-29-2017, 02:09 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 19,990
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
An archeologist friend told me that relatively few hunter gatherers chose to become farmers. Instead, farmers, with their higher population density, greater organization, and growing population just took more land from the hunter gatherers with every generation, often via war, and eventually hunter gatherers only existed in odd corners of the world.
It's been the subject of debate for a long time but fairly recent research shows that in fact quite a diverse few group of HGs chose to become farmers all around the same time.
According to three teams who used new techniques to gain glimpses of the nuclear DNA of the world’s very first farmers, farming was adopted not by one group of people, but by genetically distinct groups scattered across the region. “It was not one early population that sowed the seeds of farming in western Asia, but several adjacent populations that all had the good fortune to live in the zone where potential plant and animal domesticates were to be found and exploited,” ...

... The earliest archaeological evidence for cultivating plants and herding animals dates back 10,000 to 12,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, which arcs from the Persian Gulf to Turkey and south to Egypt (see map, above). Excavations at Jericho in Jordan, Jarmo in Iraq, and Çatalhöyük in Turkey, for example, have found evidence of early grain farming and sheep and goat domestication in different areas at roughly the same time.

Geneticists have been trying to track whether one group of people—or just their ideas—spread farming early on. ...

... The descendants of these early farmers went separate ways. Whereas the western Anatolians later migrated to Europe, Reich’s team proposes that the ancient farmers of the Levant migrated to East Africa, where living people carry some of their distinct DNA, and the Zagros Mountain farmers spread north into the Eurasian steppe and east into South Asia.

Did these early people learn farming from each other, or was it invented more than once? Here, opinion differs. Archaeologists have noted that early farmers in different regions used different tools and grains, supporting the idea of multiple origins, says archaeologist Roger Matthews of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. “The genetic and archaeological evidence suggest at least two separate pathways to agriculture, at distant ends of the Fertile Crescent, eventually merging into a unified package that then spreads outwards,” he says.

But these groups traded obsidian, suggesting to Renfrew and Harvard archaeo
logist Ofer Bar-Yosef that seeds and farming knowledge could have been shared, too. Because new kinds of food preparation tools turn up first in the Levant, Bar-Yosef thinks farming sprouted here: “Zagros foothills people adopted agriculture from the Levant.”

Burger suggests that farming was such an advantage that it spread both as an idea and by migration of people. “Initially, agri
culture was an idea that spread,” he proposes. “Then, when it reaches the borders of Europe, it becomes people spreading farming. We have an extremely complex agricultural revolution that was created by people who were extremely diverse.”