Chapter

The gatherer-hunters and their world

I. G. Simmons

in Global Environmental History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780748621583
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670765 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621583.003.0002
The gatherer-hunters and their world

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For about 99% of the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens, we have been gathers and hunters. This-life way has largely disappeared except in a few marginal environments but carried distinctively low population densities and environmental impacts. Energy access was restricted to solar capture through plants and animals but manipulation of the land and its populations might be achieved through the use of controlled fire. Most foragers lived in a cohesive world in which they did not perceive themselves as separate from their land and their resources: moose were good to eat and good to think. Much was dependent on a social structure with few hierarchies and a population kept below any notion of maximum carrying capacity. For many years regarded as ‘savages’ remnant groups are now usually treated with respect even as their livelihoods are taken away.

Keywords: Foraging; Population density; Fire; Cave art; Extinction

Chapter.  14490 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Prehistoric Archaeology

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