Thursday, March 19, 2015

History Hour #1 - The Hunter Gatherer Period

Champions of the primitive often see the Hunter-Gatherer Period (HGP) in human history as some type of ideal. A Shangri-La where humanity lived in blissful co-existence with their environment, where resources were rarely strained and the fight for territory was at most ephemeral.

More detailed studies of hunter-gatherer societies that exist on the periphery of the great civilizations reveal that this ideal does not agree with observed actualities but there are nevertheless many positives that are associated with this lifestyle. Simplicity, an egalitarian social-ethos, kinship in smaller bands and a focus on the fundamental of human existence are a few that spring to mind. The longevity of the HGP (by some accounts 1.8 million years if you go back to Homo Erectus - but in terms of Homo sapiens sapiens 70,000 years or so) are testament to this reality.

The term HGP is somewhat of a misnomer as many humans survived during this time period by scavenging and foraging. Nor were the hunting methods as clean as mythology would have one believe. In fact persistence hunting, involving long distance running may have been somewhat of a norm and the basic foundations of wild forest gardening may have provided the transition into the agricultural revolution that would supersede the HGP.

However what bought this period to an end in the west seems to have been a combination of overexploitation, unsustainable killing as well as the encroaching footprint of the Agricultural communities that started their expansion about 12,000 BCE.

Will it return? Perhaps only in a post-apocalyptic scenario. However it did provide the leg up for the agricultural revolution to follow and seems for all intent of purpose to be a necessary stage in the collective evolution of the neophyte western civilization.
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