Why Hunter Gatherers Adopted the Agricultural Lifestyle

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For most of our history, humans supported themselves by hunting and gathering: they harvested for food and hunted wild animals. Their lifestyle is nothing compared to how we live today, it is unpleasant, barbarous, and nomadic. Since no food was grown and little was stored, there was no such thing as rest from the struggles that began each day to find wild foods and avoid death due to starvation. This lifestyle did not last long as it progressed forward to where we would settle down to start the cultivation of plants and domesticate animals.

To even start the question on 'Why did the hunter-gatherer ancestors adopt agriculture?' is illogical to ask. They adopted it because it is much easier to get access to food for way less work. Imagine back to that time period where hunter gatherers are always on the move, searching for berries or chasing a wild buffalo for hours? It would be exhausting, to say the least. As humans, we all want to progress and want better and easier tactics for ourselves so it would not take long to appreciate the advantages of agriculture.

Agricultural societies used tools we would today in our garden to harvest crops over a broad area. Scholars called it Agricultural Revolution to refer to the ecological changes that happened as long as 12,000 years ago. “Around 10,000 BCE, a fundamental shift occurred in the way humans produced food for themselves- what some scholars have called an agricultural or ecological, revolution” (pg 22.) The increase of more food would equal to more people than in the hunter gatherer period.

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This would lead to having leftover food which resulted in settled towns becoming a trade center. You would have machinist, teachers, traders, and ministers not worrying about where to look for food and essentially having more time to work on your craft to help others advance. “These herders produced both meat and dairy products, as well as wool for textiles, and exchanged these products with the agriculturalists for grain, pottery, and other staples.” (pg 23).

An example of how the Harappans and Western Afro-Eurasia, a settled civilization, were able to trade to progress the way they did which would not be possible if they lived a hunter gatherer lifestyle. “They traded copper, flint, shells, and ivory, as well as pottery, flint blades, and jewelry created by their craftworkers, in exchange of gold, silver, gemstones, and textiles” (pg 67). “As nomads and herders brought new technologies to settled communities, innovation in governance spurred the rise of larger, expansionist territorial states. Trade routes lay open to predators, and pillaging became a lucrative enterprise” (pg 84).

Hunter gatherers were foragers. The women would pick anything edible off of trees and bushes to eat and store for their families. The downfall to this is the food gathered could be poisoned or have a disease. Even in today's time we could get sick from picking a bad batch of strawberries from your local supermarket. “Early homo sapiens forged for wild berries, nuts, fruit, and grains, rather than planting crops, vines, or trees” (pg 20).

Hunting and gathering are labor demanding, and the hunters did not have exact measures of the food they will be able to catch for the day. Farming is hard work as well, but not as all-out as to hunter-gatherers so it is obvious that farming had major advantages. Farming, in general, adds a much more reliable form of livelihood. Farming involves having a piece of land, where one can work with the specification of the weather and water which then they can know what to expect from the venture at any time if everything is consistent. In this way, the farmer can know ahead of time whether a venture will be reliable or not. For as hunter-gatherers there is always the uncertainty for them. A hunter would go out to hunt with no guarantee catch. It is just a prayer that everything turns out in his favor.

He has no control over what could happen during his adventure. This is very risky, especially if his family entirely depends on it as the only source of food. With this type of lifestyle, you were gambling your life on the line day to day. With increased population and burden on resources, farming is driven to become more beneficial.

From the article, (Shiny, Happy People?), expressed that hunting and gathering was a better time and argues that as time went on we obtained more power which does not correlate to happiness. It is very difficult to make a case against that we weren’t much happier, but the quality of life did not get worse. I prefer to live in an agricultural society, which is more civilized. In fact, people of this modern-day society, tend to choose agriculture over hunting and gathering because it is reliable, smoother, and less risky.

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