Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Discussions unearthing human history including cultural anthropology, linguistics, etc.

Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Fuqin on August 9th, 2015, 3:06 pm 

i think records are one thing forensics another and reasonable assumption - not very scientific but certain things can be assumed like a lack of dental etc
User avatar
Fuqin
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3059
Joined: 29 May 2005
Location: The land of OZ
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby doogles on August 10th, 2015, 5:19 am 

Forest_Dump » Fri Aug 07, 2015 8:30 pm wrote:I thought the article was actually pretty good and interesting but I think a few points should probably be brought up. First it can be extremely difficult to distinguish domesticated plants from their wild ancestors given that people at the time had little or no knowledge or experience with the kind of long range planning over hundreds or thousands of years necessary. Its pretty safe to say that we can't be sure whether they were deliberately planting or simply harvesting from patches of wild wheat, etc. Only a very detailed analysis of the preserved seeds can answer the question of whether they show convincing evidence of being seeds with a stronger richis, etc., because that would indicate seeds that would not propagate naturally in that they would not fall off the stem easily which would make them easier to be harvested and stored for seed crop. The article also mentioned harvesting and processing tools but again the same tools were used for harvesting wild plant food. A little more interesting is the reference to weeds that grow on disturbed ground. The authors note that these would grow on fields but they would also colonise the ground disturbed around a settlement from simple trampling of the ground. An interesting example of parallel reasoning was actually an hypothesis forwarded by David Rindos regarding weeds colonising semi-sedentary camps in eastern North America where these weeds would produce edible seeds and over preferential picking of these local weed seeds andf perhaps increasingly tending these in proto-gardens over some centuries, several types of plants ultimately domesticated (e.g. goosefoot, amaranth, sunflowers and perhaps tobacco). While I would not doubt there were a number of early experiments in horticulture and gardening that ultimately failed for any number of reasons I am always cautious about these kinds of claims that would push the date of domestication so far back in time. If there was enough success in gardening to warrant any kind of change in lifestyle such as putting in the work to till fields in any significant way, reschedule other resource procurement, etc., that could take generations to achieve and for people to put much trust in kind of investment. Therefore I would expect that when there was any kind of appreciable success in gardening, even if it was only a small addition to the diet, it would have spread around and we would be seeing similar kinds fo evidence at other sites dating close to the same time. When and where horticulture and domesticated plants appear it does seem to spread around reasonably quickly because it was of some value and I doubt many people couold have kept that kind of secret for more than a century to two (historically, even the strongest kingdoms could only keep monopolies like that for a few decades).


Getting back to the thrust of the Opening Post that suggested we may have to push back the dating of first trials of agriculture by maybe 11,000 years, I was impressed by Forrest_Dump’s contribution in which he questioned some of the conclusions. I managed to locate the original article on which this thread was based. The full text is available free on http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26200895 and the conclusions quite clear, but questionable, and the authors admit this to some extent.

Conclusions
We suggest that the Ohalo II archaeobotanical remains indicate that the locals practiced small-scale cultivation, with no evidence for its continuation in the following period. Similar failed trials with new techniques are known from the history of technology but the ideas remain within the generally same population [62]. There are several lines of evidence supporting this suggestion: (i) The large numbers of edible grasses, wild wheat, wild barley and wild oat; (ii) The large numbers of proto-weeds; (iii) The common presence of domestic-type disarticulation scars, far beyond the normal representation in wild populations, and (iv) The presence of the earliest sickle blades, indicating planned cereal harvesting. Indeed, it is important to note that we do not claim a domesticated status for the Ohalo II wheat and barley. We assume that such trial cultivation could be the reason for the significant representation of domestic-type rachises. In turn, the domestic-type rachis is probably an indication of some evolutionary change, similar to the process that took place some ten millennia or so later, when wheat and barley became fully domesticated. However, these changes likely disappeared after the short Ohalo II cultivation endeavor, although archaeobotanical data (and sickle blades) are still lacking from the immediately succeeding sites

I believe everyone associated with this site assumes that it was a relatively short-lived settlement and that the carbon-dating of its brief existence (because of flooding following the Ice Age) was accurate enough to be c 23000 years ago.

Re Conclusion i, I would have expected less than 13 species of edible grasses amongst the final accumulation if the inhabitants had observed even 10 years of experimental planning.

Re Conclusion ii, read Forest_Dump’s contribution above. I would add to that my own personal experience of witnessing horses turn paddocks with prime pasture into paddocks of weeds by selectively eating the best grasses. My suggestion is that hunter-gatherers with preferential sickle-harvesting of wild cereal-type grasses would achieve the same effect as horses in nearby fields. Only the weeds survive.

Re Conclusion iii, I know nothing about disarticulation scars and so prefer not to comment.

Re Conclusion iv, I’m with Forest_Dump that the same tools would be used for the harvesting of wild cereal grasses as for cultivated crops. I would also like to add a probability that these people had the same size brain as ourselves and would therefore be just as intelligent. And on this basis I would like to ask why they would bother to attempt to plant and grow cereal grasses, when they were growing in abundance over hundreds of square kilometres naturally (my imagination and guessing at the latter). If you read the original article, you will see that they found far more seeds of much smaller size grass variety than they did of what we regard as large cereal types; I find it hard to believe that they would collect anything and everything if they'd successfully cultivated larger seeds.

I apologise, but I’m just not convinced by this article that we can yet push the development of agriculture back another 8000 or 11000 years. Obviously it does indicate intimate contact with edible seeds as a precursor to the development of planting and harvesting - hence agriculture.
User avatar
doogles
Active Member
 
Posts: 1141
Joined: 11 Apr 2009
Location: BRISBANE


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Clory on November 11th, 2016, 5:00 pm 

This information is really good. I'm gonna use it my papers for tomorrows class.
Clory
Forum Neophyte
 
Posts: 9
Joined: 11 Nov 2016


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby wolfhnd on November 11th, 2016, 6:11 pm 

How many of you think you would have made it to 60 in a stone age culture?
wolfhnd
 


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby vivian maxine on November 11th, 2016, 6:14 pm 

wolfhnd » November 11th, 2016, 5:11 pm wrote:How many of you think you would have made it to 60 in a stone age culture?


I'd have died trying. :-)
vivian maxine
Resident Member
 
Posts: 2823
Joined: 01 Aug 2014


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 6:18 pm 

wolfhnd » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:11 pm wrote:How many of you think you would have made it to 60 in a stone age culture?


Define which culture.

If I were in the Hunza, Vilcabamba, or Okinawa type stone age culture I think definitely.
User avatar
zetreque
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 3764
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Location: Paradise being lost to humanity
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby wolfhnd on November 11th, 2016, 6:34 pm 

Excluding starvation one of my sister's would have died in childbirth age 28, my other sister died in childbirth age 39, my brother would have died age 50 from appendicitis and I would have died from pneumonia age 55. So none of my siblings nor myself would have made it to 60. When I was kid ever cancer was a death sentence, I wouldn't get overly romantic about the simple life of days gone by.

Infant mortality alone does not explain the rapid increase in population density following the introduction of agriculture. You can do the math to see that it only requires a very small increase above replacement values over the course of a thousand years for population levels in Hunter gather society to exceed carrying capacity.

Once agriculture is introduced the conventional wisdom is that life expectancy actually decreased for those making it to adulthood. I suspect however that reduced selection pressure on settled people and more organized warfare with increased density are distorting our evaluation. Also environmental factors are likely to make life expectancy less uniform for Hunter Gathers. My question would be how would you compare life expectancy in nomadic people with random burial practices.

I'm willing to accept the estimates given for life expectancy of prehistoric peoples. The interesting question I believe has to do with population expansion and the introduction of agriculture. If you look at places where agriculture is difficult such as New Guinea or impossible such as the Arctic population density seems remarkably stable.
Last edited by wolfhnd on November 11th, 2016, 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
wolfhnd
 


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 6:37 pm 

wolfhnd » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:34 pm wrote:Excluding starvation one of my sister's would have died in childbirth age 28, my other sister died in childbirth age 39, my brother would have died age 50 from appendicitis and I would have died from pneumonia age 55. So none of my siblings nor myself would have made it to 60.


This is an unfair statement because you are taking it out of context. Would an appendicitis or the illnesses and situations have happened years ago? We do not know if present day factors contributed to those situations/illnesses.
User avatar
zetreque
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 3764
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Location: Paradise being lost to humanity
Blog: View Blog (3)


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby wolfhnd on November 11th, 2016, 7:14 pm 

zetreque » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:37 pm wrote:
wolfhnd » Fri Nov 11, 2016 3:34 pm wrote:Excluding starvation one of my sister's would have died in childbirth age 28, my other sister died in childbirth age 39, my brother would have died age 50 from appendicitis and I would have died from pneumonia age 55. So none of my siblings nor myself would have made it to 60.


This is an unfair statement because you are taking it out of context. Would an appendicitis or the illnesses and situations have happened years ago? We do not know if present day factors contributed to those situations/illnesses.


I was editing but it is a good point you make. The answer I suspect is that the artificial reduction in fitness that culture introduces has made us in some sense poorer specimens. There is substantially evidence that self domestication is driving neoteny in humans. What constitutes a poorer specimen is of course made subjective by the same forces.
wolfhnd
 


Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on November 11th, 2016, 7:24 pm 

back to the question on if I could live to 60 in a "stone age" culture.

I think cultures were just as diverse in the stone age as they are not, if not far more diverse.

Ones that practice cannibalism
Ones that practice veganism.

All in different environments.

What I wonder is what balance in nature would achieve the longest life span?

If we had an agrarian culture that was stable and in harmony with it's environment, where the human species adapted the correct enzymes to break down the starches in a low glucose or less free radical type of action along with teeth that wouldn't rot (we know that corn was very bad for health in "the new world" and more, I think they could live long lives.

I think one of the main ingredients is there needs to be a stable environment whatever it is for a period of time. That's why we see examples of ancient cultures that have a lot of evidence that they lived to old age.

We see incidence of disease increase when any animal is taken out of it's natural environment or put on a diet different from the one it used to have.
User avatar
zetreque
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 3764
Joined: 30 Dec 2007
Location: Paradise being lost to humanity
Blog: View Blog (3)


Previous

Return to Archaeology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests