I would not want to "carve you up" and while I agree that 'basic'
are similar to our own you have to put things in context. For mesolithic
and early neolithic people who suffered periodic famine, survival and
food were of more importance than comfort. In fact even today, the
meaning of comfort means different things to different people. I
remember communicating with a missionary working with a stone age group
in the Amazon. I asked, because they were in a rain forest environment,
if they were aware of salt, and he wrote back scathingly saying they are
more concerned with being killed by wild animals
>I hesitate to join in this discussion, as I studied ancient agriculture 35
>years ago ... and I'm not sure that we ever considered WHY somebody might do
>Are you sure that the scale of the discussion above is meaningful?
>The arguments offered all act on the population scale, rather than on the
>Population scale analysis is more meaningful where the individuals don't
>make decisions about their life-style. That is NOT true of humans. It
>works with things like trees, colonising areas opened up by changing
>environments. Their populations can be examined mechanistically. But do
>humans in a Neolithic environment act communally or individually?
>Stalinism, for example, was driven by a few individuals but was able to
>affect a nation because there were already national scale communications and
>government. But could it have happened in Late Mesolithic Europe? I guess
>So it was suggested here that agriculture happened because its
>socio-economics permitted growth of population and increasing
>specialisation, or something like that. Among other things. But I can't
>see any individual deciding THAT. I suspect that their responses were much
>more like those that would be expected from ourselves:
>"You know, Harold, I was talking to Martha who had just come back from
>visiting her daughter Enid that married that man from the village over the
>hill. She was TERRIBLY impressed by how comfortable their houses are. She
>said they were so COSY even though it was raining. And the furniture was so
>soft and comfortable too. Apparently they have huge, soft beds ... and you
>know what that means ... They have a pretty garden with a fence around it
>and it's been ages since a wolf got any of their kids and now she can
>concentrate on the weaving and cooking. I really think that maybe we should
>try growing just a BIT of food and get a few goats. She said the goats were
>a real boon when she dried up only two months after her last baby. We could
>easily get her nephew to show us how to get started".
>No socio-economic plan. Just a very human love of comfort.
>Would I rather travel around and live in a tent or have my house?
>Please don't carve me up for this minimalistic view!
>Dr Hilary Stuart-Williams
>Research Officer - Stable Isotopes
>The Research School of Biology
>Robertson Building (46)
>Sullivan's Creek Road
>The Australian National University
>Canberra ACT 2601
>Work: 61 02 6125 2099
Hon. Secretary Los Angeles Branch, Oxford University Society
Board Member, Archaeological Institute of America
President, Droitwich Brine Springs and Archaeological Trust, U.K
Affilliate, Cotsen institute of Archaeology, UCLA
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