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Old June 22nd, 2010, 12:55 AM   #1

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Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


I'm reading this book called The Genesis Secret - kind of Da Vinci Code style, a historical/archaeological mystery thriller set in modern day times. It's based on the concept that Gobekli Tepe is the Garden of Eden. Anyway, at one point, it's discussing the transition of hunter-gatherers to farmers and how hunter-gatherers had a comparatively much easier life than farmers. It said farmers pretty much had to work all day for their food whereas hunter-gatherers lived a pretty leisurely lifestyle, only hunting and gathering a few hours per day. I suppose the suggestion is that the concept of Eden represents life as hunter-gatherers and the fall of Eden was the transition to farming.

But is it true that hunter-gatherers had an easier lifestyle than farmers? And if so, what motivated the transition?

Oh and please move if this is in the wrong section
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 01:50 AM   #2

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


Farming brings stability and increased productivity.

It's the same with any technological edge: if you don't adopt it, you'll lose. In the case of agriculture over hunter-gathering, it means the hunter-gatherers have a lot less population than the farmers, as well as no specialised workforces, so no developments like the wheel, writing, professional warfare, animal husbandry, and so on.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:03 AM   #3

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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Originally Posted by History Chick View Post
I'm reading this book called The Genesis Secret - kind of Da Vinci Code style, a historical/archaeological mystery thriller set in modern day times. It's based on the concept that Gobekli Tepe is the Garden of Eden. Anyway, at one point, it's discussing the transition of hunter-gatherers to farmers and how hunter-gatherers had a comparatively much easier life than farmers. It said farmers pretty much had to work all day for their food whereas hunter-gatherers lived a pretty leisurely lifestyle, only hunting and gathering a few hours per day. I suppose the suggestion is that the concept of Eden represents life as hunter-gatherers and the fall of Eden was the transition to farming.

But is it true that hunter-gatherers had an easier lifestyle than farmers? And if so, what motivated the transition?

Oh and please move if this is in the wrong section
I have always dreamed of being an hunter and gatherer. Unfortunatelly there is no sector I can have a career on it today.

Ease of being HG depend on the resources, HG enjoyed life when there were not much amount of human on the earth. natural resources were abundant per people. People invented agriculture because of deminishing natural resources.

I mean they needed to produce natural resources, because of scarcity. HG didn't needed to produce resources they already had.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:10 AM   #4

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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Originally Posted by History Chick View Post
I'm reading this book called The Genesis Secret - kind of Da Vinci Code style, a historical/archaeological mystery thriller set in modern day times. It's based on the concept that Gobekli Tepe is the Garden of Eden. Anyway, at one point, it's discussing the transition of hunter-gatherers to farmers and how hunter-gatherers had a comparatively much easier life than farmers. It said farmers pretty much had to work all day for their food whereas hunter-gatherers lived a pretty leisurely lifestyle, only hunting and gathering a few hours per day. I suppose the suggestion is that the concept of Eden represents life as hunter-gatherers and the fall of Eden was the transition to farming.

But is it true that hunter-gatherers had an easier lifestyle than farmers? And if so, what motivated the transition?

Oh and please move if this is in the wrong section
Hmmm. That would depend. It is for one a fact that both lifestyles were quite different and provoked a very different pattern of co-existence between amongst others the sexes (sedendary society was "hostile" to women who became less equal to men like hunter-gatherer societies).

For one, whether or not you'd live in a "garden of eden", would pretty much depend on context, and in the case of hunter-gatherers, that was quite variable. We often speak of the Fertile Crescent as one of those places were it all began, and immediately our minds drift to the lush banks of the Nile or Tigris and Euphrates.... However, in reality it all began with neither. That is to say, some of the most formative areas of sedentary culture and domestication, is not to be found in either of those areas, but in reality in between, in that other part of the fertile crescent: Syria-Palestine. Here lived human communities in what has been described as an area so wealthy that you could simply pick food up everywhere: plants, animals, etc all were in abundance.

However... this is were it gets interesting.

Mankind has always been a slow learner, and just as the people of Easter Island destroyed themselves, so apparently did the communities in the Palestine area not take in account that abundance may be trifling in the light of overusage... It's to bad I'm working by memory here, I can't seem to find my old papers of the courses of the Ancient Near East I took 2 years ago, so I can't give much more detailed information. I'll try to get the bare gist of it. So in essence hunter-gatherers lived in an area with abundant means of survival. So what does the unsuspecting human do? He goes and destroys that environment. Iirc this happened a number of times forcing the hunter-gatherers to migrate. Eventually they'd learn to not only domesticate animals, but also observed how plants (like cereals) multiplied, and eventually got a hang of how to do it themselves.

The advantages are legio: no longer would humans be forced to migrate cause they had depleted all natural sustenance, they could simply harvest it themselves. These were advantages on one hand, that however also brought forth changes in how humans dealt with each other, most significantly, a profound change in the equality between the sexes (for initially even amongst farmer societies, social stratification was for a long time absent).
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:17 AM   #5
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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


I would not say hunter-gatherers had it easier, source of their food was less certain than that of farmers (not that farmers had their meals guaranteed). Also there are certain periods in year (actually whole seasons) when there is much less work in the field, so it is hard to say, who had more "free time".

On the other hand it was found that hunter-gatherers had longer average life length than farmers. But reason was probably that diet of farmer was less varied than that of hunter-gatherer. It actually was probably very limited on average. At the same time number of people in farming communities increased compared to those of hunter-gatherers since food was more abundant. You can simplify it as quantity wins over quality
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:31 AM   #6

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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I would not say hunter-gatherers had it easier, source of their food was less certain than that of farmers (not that farmers had their meals guaranteed). Also there are certain periods in year (actually whole seasons) when there is much less work in the field, so it is hard to say, who had more "free time".

On the other hand it was found that hunter-gatherers had longer average life length than farmers. But reason was probably that diet of farmer was less varied than that of hunter-gatherer. It actually was probably very limited on average. At the same time number of people in farming communities increased compared to those of hunter-gatherers since food was more abundant. You can simplify it as quantity wins over quality
I speculate or think, huter and gatherer were happier at first, because natural resources were abundant.

Imagine a valley, where there are full of natural resources, deers, antilopes..etc. the hunt are so abundant that when you throve your javeline with your eyes closed, by chance you could hunt one. No one would say "should I invent a new technology like agriculture and work harder".

Also there is no danger of slavey, taxe, plundering.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:39 AM   #7

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


Hunting(and trapping)/gathering became animal husbandry/farming. One expends less time/energy, you see. That's frees up time for other outlets for one's energy, like writing, or firing clay pots, all that stuff.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 04:51 AM   #8

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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Hunting(and trapping)/gathering became animal husbandry/farming. One expends less time/energy, you see. That's frees up time for other outlets for one's energy, like writing, or firing clay pots, all that stuff.
That's overall not correct Lucius. Hunter-gatherers in fact had it easier in terms of collecting substenance, or so research has pointed out. Sedentary life brought a lot of negative changes in terms of quality. Disease became more dangerous, social changes in hiŽrarchy and indeed, sedentary life demanded a lot more energy put in the daily labour then that had to be delivered by hunter-gatherers.

The main difference is that farmers were not as much in a position to deplete their pool of substenance, which was the case with hunter-gatherers, in which case migration was the consequence.

So while overall early farmers had a tougher time - or more intensive - gathering substenance, it would only be in time that they came to create a surplus that would allow a diversity of other activities. But it is incorrect to state that farming was less intensive then hunting or gathering.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:19 AM   #9

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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Originally Posted by Efendi View Post
I speculate or think, huter and gatherer were happier at first, because natural resources were abundant.

Imagine a valley, where there are full of natural resources, deers, antilopes..etc. the hunt are so abundant that when you throve your javeline with your eyes closed, by chance you could hunt one. No one would say "should I invent a new technology like agriculture and work harder".
And just how long do you figure the prey hangs around in this idyllic valley when there is an aggressive predator thinning the herd?

Obviously those who claim hunting is a fun and easy activity have never hunted deer, or turkey.

And the competition for gathering is the four legged prey of the hunters.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:51 AM   #10

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Re: Hunter-gatherers vs Farmers


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On the other hand it was found that hunter-gatherers had longer average life length than farmers.
Yes, I forgot that was mentioned in the book as well. It didn't mention the benefits of farming like not having to migrate or more reliability. Does anyone have any thoughts on the real Gobekli Tepe? I'd never heard of it until picking up this book.
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