ANTHRO FINAL NOTES
10 units on this final
Lecture 10: Food Production
domestication of plants and animals
middle eastern case of domesticaiton of plants and animals
analogy to eden
wheat, barly, goats, sheep, vertical economy, hilly flanks—know well
know consequences of domestication, what happened to human society
because people had surpluses of food that weren’t previously available to
evolution of the state
Anthropology can be interpreted as a “new and improved” cosmology. We have already
seen how theories of evolution attempt to make sense of human origins, just as accounts
of divine creation do.
The parallel trend in new and old cosmologies continues in our discussion of
If tales of “natural selection” explain how we evolved over millions of years, tales of
“domestication” explain how we have acquired, in less than 10,000 years, the levels of
social and cultural complexity we see around us today.
The old cosmologies reassert themselves in tales of domestication, since the advent of
food production is construed, explicitly in the Book of Genesis and implicitly in the Book
of Kottak, as a curse that accompanies knowledge.
Read Genesis 3:17-19.
Read from Kottak 11:250.
[Don’t worry; I’ll read this to you in class.]
Both scriptures place humans in an original “state of nature” which is preferable, in many
ways, to the kinds of societies we live in now. [Hobbes vs. Sahlins].
So the most important question is … Why would humans opt for a way of life that brings
with it so many maladaptive, dangerous, and evil things? What makes it worthwhile to
live a life of domestication?
The simplest answers: Global warming. Retreating glaciers. Drier climates. Big game
extinctions around the world. Broad spectrum foraging.
All of this starts about 15,000 B.P. By 10,000 B.P., people in the Middle East were
already subsisting on domesticated wheat, goats, and sheep, and living in permanent