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Link: Early human farmers used hunting for social cohesion

 
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This topic can be relevant to many sections on this board,, not just under hunting. I will leave it up to others to share this as they see fit, but I hope it is shared:

http://wildlife.org/early-human-farmers-used-hunting-for-social-cohesion/
 
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for sharing this perspective and theory...I am very interested in this area of study from an Anthropological view point, and have considered and examined many concepts over the decades.

Joshua Rapp Learn as stated by Xavier Terradas, Archaeologist, Spanish National Research Council wrote:...Hunting was an element of social cohesion...The bows recovered in La Draga, besides being unique material documentation of early Neolithic archery and hunting technology, become part of the earliest archaeological evidence available on the social role of hunting in the first farming societies, especially in order to evaluate structural aspects such as economic specialization, division of labor and the nature of resource access,”...Based on the bones, we can tell whether the animals are domestic or hunted...Hunting is not related to subsistence but other elements...



I am not overly disagreeing with what role hunting..."might"....have played in these cultures. Yet this is purely conceptual speculation and Dr. Terradas views have been challenged for the depth they extend the meaning of some of his projected social conclusions in his paper "Characterizing prehistoric archery: technical and functional analyses of the Neolithic bows from La Draga (NE Iberian Peninsula)." Many do agree, myself included, that hunting seems to have played many roles in Neolithic, as well as, contemporary Indigenous cultures. Further speculation than that is on very soft ground, as many think farming was as great or greater overall significance to the social construct. As with today, hunting in many cultures, has fallen to the "normative development" of a select view, and even within these Neolithic groups, could have been well restricted to just male members of just a select "cast" within the groups as is reflected in other indigenous cultures.

Joshua Rapp Learn wrote:Researchers also discovered bones of hunted prey like deer, wild goats and other animals, but they estimated that only about 3 percent of the diet of the Neolithic people in this area actually came from hunted animals.



This is overly subjective, as we are not speaking of even 100 dig sites or even a comprehensive and full analysis of a 100% preserved site. This too is subjective data that only gives of a speculative glimpse into these societies and what roles hunting and farming played to them. Since my area of interest has been in "comparative social anthropology" as it is applied and tested out within ILS, I am more prone to believe that "farming" was the most significant element of the overall social matrix, and that hunting was only a "spiritual passage" for select few, and a "supplementary resource" to agronomy within these societies. The more farming became prevalent the less significance was on hunting. This was not the case, of course, in all societies, yet even in societies like the Plains Indians and related groups I am descended from, "hunting" was only a facet of the culture, and perhaps not a significant one either when all other daily and annual events are taken into consideration. Squash harvest and drying, season changes, puberty, birth and death ceremony, and the list continues, all took precedence of the "harvesting" of meat through hunting...

I appreciate Dr. Terradas's perspectives, yet would need many more site excavations/examinations and counter perspectives to really follow his theoretical perspectives being more acute than others. Thanks again for posting this, as it is a very interesting subject.

Regards,

j
 
Mike Rossi
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Jay, I do not have much investment in this topic, but I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and perspective. Stated, I am far from an expert on the topic, let me offer this. As a Lakota, I assume? You are familiar with the dry and cold climate of the Dakotas?

I think climate and location needs to be considered with these sort of historical - anthropological speculations. And I mean the climate of the era studied. It isnt even a stretch that soil conditions evolved. The locally evolved wildlife are apadted to local conditions, and have a degree of resileince to schotastic events. So, eating what is already there, is reliable and sustainable. Even native plant foods may not be seasonably availalble, but unless it is a species that hibernates, a meat source is. And, as you know, unlike sport hunting, subsitence hunting involves going after what is avail and practicler during the season, ie, the inuits might hunt seals when the ice makes them accessable but whales or ungulates other times....

Not arguing with you, like I said, I appreciate your reply, and I dont doubt you. it is just I am seeing with the locavore movement, failure to consider ecological linkages. That misunderstanding leads to eroneuas conclusions about eating meat and facilitates the entry of idealogies that are not really concerned with ecology and food safety, ie, animal rights / anti hunting.
 
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@Jay C. White Cloud: " I am more prone to believe that "farming" was the most significant element of the overall social matrix, and that hunting was only a "spiritual passage" for select few, and a "supplementary resource" to agronomy within these societies. The more farming became prevalent the less significance was on hunting. This was not the case, of course, in all societies, yet even in societies like the Plains Indians and related groups I am descended from, "hunting" was only a facet of the culture, and perhaps not a significant one either when all other daily and annual events are taken into consideration. Squash harvest and drying, season changes, puberty, birth and death ceremony, and the list continues, all took precedence of the "harvesting" of meat through hunting... "

If one uses the (albeit biased) notion that what remains of hunting & gathering cultures provides some indication of the past, wouldn't both hunting and gathering share equal weight possibly here in terms of social cohesion? And I'm intrigued by the late Paul Shepard's argument that hunting and gathering, as directly compared to agriculture, formed a better backdrop in which to envision and develop a cosmology from which to draw healthy paradigms for communal living [ http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/paul-shepard-nature-and-madness ]. Once domestication took hold....of animals and plants...a new cosmology emerged to accommodate and justify this development. I will be out of my element with the next part and will welcome correction, but half a state away from us lived the Mandan, primarily agricultural with some hunting, and the Lakota who moved in later and were hunting and gathering. Even with the extreme swings in climate, cropping and the preservation of that harvest among the more sedentary Mandan was pretty instrumental and likely was influential in social cohesion (see http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/buffalo/garden/garden.html ) Irrespective of the method employed, all three (agriculture, hunting, gathering) became integrated with social and spiritual considerations that sought to guarantee success in subsequent generations. Yet it may be that of the three, agriculture required a domestication of the mind and of humanity to be congruent with the domestication of plant and animal life (see chapter "The Domesticators" in Shepard's full text of "Nature and Madness": http://www.amazon.com/Nature-Madness-Paul-Shepard/dp/0820319805 ). In other words, if hunting and gathering have inherent "slippery slopes", then agriculture is pre-wetted mudslide....
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Mike,

I am familiar with the Sioux culture, I am Comanche and Kiowa (et al) lineages. Which also had different cultural matrixes during there transition from one culture type to another.

Mike Rossi wrote:I think climate and location needs to be considered with these sort of historical - anthropological speculations.



Absolutely, I couldn't agree more. This is also probably a major force behind why many cultures are still more "hunter-gathers" than pursuing a more agronomic lifestyle.

Mike Rossi wrote:That misunderstanding leads to erroneous conclusions about eating meat and facilitates the entry of ideologies that are not really concerned with ecology and food safety, ie, animal rights / anti hunting.



Yes..."erroneous"...that is what I key into the most when archaeologists throughout generalities and/or conclusions based on theory. Hunting had a place in all these ancient societies and the purpose and importance was as varied as the societies themselves.

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Hi John,

John Weiland wrote:If one uses the (albeit biased) notion that what remains of hunting & gathering cultures provides some indication of the past, wouldn't both hunting and gathering share equal weight possibly here in terms of social cohesion?



First, I should validate that this is mostly an "academic discourse" when discussing past societies and all we can do in "interpret" and "extrapolate" from what we know (or think we know) today. So nothing here is presented as a disagreeance, just perspective per se.

To the point of the above quote I would have to say generally not necessarily, as sometimes they may be equal, while at other times not at all, and it can change with time for a number of reasons. It all depends on the individual cultural matrix and how much agronomy plays in the normative cultural construct as it is "currently." These change and evolve for very important to more a "right of passage" or other spiritual significance.

Take the Papuan tribes, they relied much more greatly on H/G in the past (which the low land clans still do) and the Highland clans are very focused the practice swine husbandry and sweet potato cultivation.

John Weiland wrote:And I'm intrigued by the late Paul Shepard's argument that hunting and gathering, as directly compared to agriculture, formed a better backdrop in which to envision and develop a cosmology from which to draw healthy paradigms for communal living...Once domestication took hold....of animals and plants...a new cosmology emerged to accommodate and justify this development.



Again, I think it depends on the individual cultures/societies and "creation stories" among natives (of many types) have presented as staying consistent (it would seem) even as the societies themselves may shift from more dependence on cultivation and less on hunting.

John Weiland wrote:Even with the extreme swings in climate, cropping and the preservation of that harvest among the more sedentary Mandan was pretty instrumental and likely was influential in social cohesion... Irrespective of the method employed, all three (agriculture, hunting, gathering) became integrated with social and spiritual considerations that sought to guarantee success in subsequent generations...



I think...from the perspective of "social cohesion perspective"...and the percentage of let's call it "importance," that comparatively we do have differences between a cultures like Mandan and Sioux (of which are the Lakota,Yankton, and Santee.) Yet this difference is probably insignificant (Mandan culture was "cast" in many ways such as women farming and men hunting, while "gathering" could be done by both.) This too is even experiencing generalities however as there are "clan" differences as well. As for "social cohesion importance" I would say gambling, war politics (counting coup), season changes, births/deaths, et al, all had significant roles that could well outweigh in percentage of importance to the "logistics of eating and daily living," needs. I am not saying that in there own way that "H/G" or "Agriculture" aren't important...they absolutely are, but when it comes to focus of importance, I think quite often they are given more significance than many out side these (and related cultures) may interpret.

I think, perhaps, a simple metaphoric comparison I could make that may illustrate this a bit better, is the difference between "survival instructors" and folks like me that teach "traditional living" and/or "indigenous life skills" (ILS.) Survivalists tend to have a very mercenary and mechanical perspective of "staying alive" until extraction/escape. With this mind set comes the focal point of water/shelter/food (w/s/f.) In ILS w/s/f is also part of the consideration, but has different bearing on the situation as we teach from the perspective of already being "at home," and this lack of "urgency" completely changes the paradigm of importance for things. Perhaps not the best way to illustrate the elements of "social cohesion," but a "survivalist" are typically less "cohesive" with their given situation than you would find a ILS practitioner.

John Weiland wrote: In other words, if hunting and gathering have inherent "slippery slopes", then agriculture is pre-wetted mudslide....



Hmmm...I think this may need a bit of expansion for me to better understand the concept? I don't see H/G as a "slippery slope," just a different aspect and skill sets of "natural living" when compared to agriculture. I would also speak to the concept of "domestication of the mind" and being equal in both H/G and agronomic societies in my view...unless I miss the corollary of this point.

Regards to all,

j


 
John Weiland
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@Jay C. White Cloud: " In ILS w/s/f is also part of the consideration, but has different bearing on the situation as we teach from the perspective of already being "at home," and this lack of "urgency" completely changes the paradigm of importance for things."

I agree.....and I think Shepard would have as well. One of the chapters of his book is called "The Desert Fathers", which I think could be interpreted as a discussion on how much of Western civilization mindset is rooted in, initially, survivalist methods that over time took segued into a world view.....a mindset. All painting with broad strokes of course, but interesting to ponder.

I guess I deliberately used the notion that hunting and gather may "have" slippery slopes....not that they "are" slippery slopes. My intent here was to indicate that they are both methods that rely, to a certain exent, on the "gifting" from the earth/universe, although there are elements of human artifice in them as well. With agriculture, human artifice weighs in heavily and although there is still an appeal to the god(s) for good crops and outcome, mankind begins to play G/god with the manipulation of the natural world to suit mankind's needs. Thus it might be argued that agriculture is already fraught with many dangers from the get go. With both agriculture and the development of representative currency in place, the large city-states were given fuel for growth, even if these two developments may not have been their original basis for inception. But Shepard expressed it more cogently and if interested, I would urge a reading of his book, considered to be, from a mass psychology standpoint, an important piece of environmental and ecological writing.
 
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