Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers

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Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers
Author Colin Tudge
Language English
Publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Publication date
1998
ISBN 0-297-84258-7
OCLC 40511277

Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers: How Agriculture Really Began is a book by the British science writer Colin Tudge. The book is one of a series of long essays by respected contemporary Darwinian thinkers, which were published under the collective title Darwinism Today; the series was inspired by a course of 'Darwin Seminars' which took place at the LSE in London in the late 1990s. [1]

In Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers, Colin Tudge offers an explanation for the beginning of the population explosion. Tudge explains that farming was not suddenly invented 10,000 years ago, but had existed as what he called proto-farming or hobby farming for at least 30,000 years earlier. What happened 10,000 years ago in the fertile crescent was the raising of sea level at the end of the ice age over a relatively short period of time. This forced a population who were primarily hunter-gatherers to leave a rich prey region and to move inland. The new area was less able to support these immigrants as hunter-gatherers, and they were forced to increase their labors to extend their use of farming in order to maintain their population. The following quote gives Tudge's explanation for what happened next.

"Hunter gatherers take from their environment only what their environment happens to produce; and if they take too much, the desirable prey species collapse. [...] But the whole point of agriculture is to manipulate the environment so as to increase the amount of food that it will provide. [...] And if you increase the food supply, you can increase your own population. But then, of course, the farmers find themselves in a vicious spiral. The more they farm, the more their population rises and the more they are obliged to farm, because only by farming can they feed the extra mouths."

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