- Series: Darwinism Today series
- Hardcover: 64 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1St Edition edition (October 11, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300080247
- ISBN-13: 978-0300080247
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.8 x 0.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,401,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers: How Agriculture Really Began (Darwinism Today series) Hardcover – October 11, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
Tudge wants a fresh assessment - starting with a proper definition of "farming". By his definition, "farming" is simply any modification of an environment supporting edible resources. "Modification" ranges from protecting a known resource from predation to diverting water to stimulate growth. There are no "fields" dedicated to crop production - the sites were opportunistic finds. Tudge here raises the point overlooked by most scholars -"farming" began at the end of the last Ice Age. The best crop sites were low-lying stream valleys containing rich soils and available water. As the glaciers melted and sea levels rose, these locations were inundated and lost to research. The Middle Eastern "burst" of agrarian development was due to a dislocated population that had already practiced farming elsewhere. The Tigris-Euphrates was an exile.Read more ›
It's certainly true that initial agricultural activity would not have left much trace, so it undoubtedly goes back further than we think. But any thesis about proto-agriculture before the widespread game extinctions has to contend with the fact that the game themselves - and particularly the elephant family - would have made man's first attempts at environmental manipulation quite difficult, simply by trampling over things and eating the "crops". So the great slaughter of the big game had three effects. Firstly it provided a splendid source of food, permitting a great growth in the human population. Secondly, it then used up most of the game, producing an urgent need for new sources of food for the expanded population. Thirdly, by killing off most of the game and scaring away what remained, it made agriculture possible.
But nobody expects Colin Tudge to come up with all the answers. What is wonderful about this book is that it puts forward exciting ideas in an exciting way and provokes thought and discussion. It's just the kind of book we need.
Is it pessimistic to feel that the whole of life is made of choices made because things change? This is what reviewer Ted Rushton says. Surely his perception of what is written in this book is flavoured by his belief in 'human progress'as he actually quotes. There is no such thing as human progress, and this is the underlying concept behind the whole of the Darwinian School of Thought. It was Darwinian Thought that brought 'How Agriculture Really Began' to us, with its little set of illuminating companion volumes.
The book is superb, Mr Rushton's critique is flawed, and enters the realms of fantasy with his discussion of flowers. But why not judge for yourself?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of a series of very short – I would guess of approximately 15,000 words each – books produced in the late 1990’s under the group title of Darwinism Today. Read morePublished 16 months ago by JohnCarr
I bought this book a couple years ago and finally got around to reading it. Or trying to read it - so many of the pages are blank in my copy that it's impossible to follow the... Read morePublished on March 6, 2012 by Doris F. Russ
This book is like a 10 to 15 minutes conversation in a Conference coffee break! Do I mean it is good or bad? Good because it is a very interesting and well presented hypothesis... Read morePublished on March 30, 2010 by Kadmos
I can't remember when I've ever read a book so small, that was so thought provoking and profound. Easily the best book I have ever read on the subject of the birth of civilization. Read morePublished on March 29, 2009 by a reviewer
This slim volume is an installation in the Darwinism Today series, a collection of ruminations on evolutionary topics by smart and creative individuals. Read morePublished on July 20, 2006 by Jacquelyn Gill
Colin Tudge, who documented the first 5 million years of hominids in "Time Before History", has delivered a powerful lecture (presented here in book form as part of the Darwinism... Read morePublished on July 14, 2006 by Wildness
The book barely caught my eye as it is so small, something like 5 X 8 in size and small as in 52 pages. I even wondered how much ionformation could someone share in 52 small pages. Read morePublished on May 16, 2001 by Elizabeth
There are two ways of looking at life; the liberal is optimistic and tends to consider happiness as a prime motivation, while the conservative is pessimistic and views hardship or... Read morePublished on January 21, 2001 by Theodore A. Rushton