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A Cultural Niche Construction Theory of Initial Domestication

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Abstract

I present a general theory for the initial domestication of plants and animals that is based on niche construction theory and incorporates several behavioral ecological concepts, including central-place provisioning, resource catchment, resource ownership and defensibility, and traditional ecological knowledge. This theory provides an alternative to, and replacement for, current explanations, including diet breadth models of optimal foraging theory, that are based on an outmoded concept of asymmetrical adaptation and that attempt to explain domestication as an adaptive response to resource imbalance resulting from either environmental decline or human population growth. The small-scale human societies that first domesticated plants and animals share a number of basic interrelated attributes that when considered as an integrated and coherent set of behaviors provide the context for explaining initial domestication not as an adaptive response to an adverse environmental shift or to human population growth or packing but rather as the result of deliberate human enhancement of resource-rich environments in situations where evidence of resource imbalance is absent.

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... On the other hand, parts of these regions continue to be occupied by small-scale societies, who base their lifestyles on an intimate relationship with nature (Ploeg, 2009). Smith (2012) points out that these people, in the past or the present, share the following behavioral patterns: have welldefined territories; maintain and update knowledge about local ecosystems, passing it on to future generations; create strategies to control wild resources; have the inherent capacity to modify ecosystems; and, through these modifications, increase the abundance and accessibility of resources of interest. ...
... When humans are the agents of landscape transformation, it is necessary to recognize that cultural aspects also influence their activities (Albuquerque et al., 2015;Coca et al., 2021). NCT helps explain and substantiate the process of plant domestication (Smith, 2012), which consists of humans selecting and managing phenotypes in wild populations, resulting in genetic, morphological, and demographic changes in the resulting populations (Clement, 1999). ...
... In these varied theoretical perspectives, the process of constructing niches and domesticating landscapes is the result of valuing and promoting species and environments (Smith, 2012;Harris and Hillman, 2014;Allaby et al., 2021). Once occupied by humans, ecosystems become dependent on complex interactions with human societies, which can be described by interactive matrices of species and management strategies over time (Terrell et al., 2003;Crumley, 2007;Albuquerque et al., 2019). ...
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The tropical South American savannas have been occupied and manipulated by humans since the late Pleistocene. Ecologists consider that soils, hydrology, and seasonal precipitation influence the structure and composition of plants and the fire-proneness of savannas. However, the human influence on these dynamics remains uncertain. This is because little is known about human activities and what influence they have on the diversity of ecosystems. Considering this, our study sought to synthesize the management practices used by small-scale societies of the South American savannas, compile the species that are the focus of direct management, and demonstrate the role of this management in maintaining the diverse ecosystems that make up the savannas. We also set out to test the hypotheses that forms of management differ depending on the ecosystem and cultural matrices. To do so, we conducted a systematic review, in which we collected 51 articles with information about the management carried out by small-scale societies. From this, we categorized 10 management practices directed to ecosystems: protection of the ecosystem, enrichment of species, topographic changes, increased soil fertility, cleaning, prevention of fire, resource promotion, driving of game, swidden-fallow, and maintenance of ecosystem structure. We identified 19 native plant species whose populations are managed in-situ . These management practices have proven capable of keeping savanna and grassland ecosystems open and increasing the occurrence of forest ecosystems in the mosaic, as well as favoring plants of human interest in general. We note that there is a relationship between management practices with ecosystems and cultures, which suggests that both factors influence the management of landscapes. We conclude that management practices of small-scale societies are responsible for domesticating South American tropical savannas and that these savannas are composed of a mosaic of culturally constructed niches. The small-scale societies that inhabit these environments have important traditional ecological knowledge and strategies that enable the use, conservation, and restoration of savannas, extremely threatened by agribusiness today. Systematic Review Registration : [website], identifier [registration number].
... The extended evolutionary synthesis (EES) brings these novel forms of inheritances together with classic genetic and epigenetic inheritances within an integrated evolutionary theory that understands evolutionary changes as coevolutionary processes acting across this combined suite of inheritances (17). Niche construction theory has been widely used by archaeologists to explain the evolution of domesticated species and commensals through ecologically transformative human-environment interactions, like the propagation of favored species, tillage, and the use of fire to improve success in hunting and foraging (17,20,(29)(30)(31)(32)(33). More recently, the EES and related theory on sociocultural niche construction (17) have been used to understand the coupling of long-term changes in cultures, societies, species, and environments, such as those relating to sedentism, agricultural intensification, and urbanization, as interacting coevolutionary processes (17,28,33). ...
... The first agricultural societies, defined by dependence on domesticated crops, likely emerged among food-producing hunter-gatherers with long histories of propagating their favored plant species in environments managed by tillage and other cultural practices that facilitated the coevolution of people and plants (30,31,43,44,70). Early agricultural societies, known as horticultural societies for their use of hand tillage, emerged in more than a dozen independent and overlapping regions through a variety of different and sometimes parallel pathways, and through the gradual spread and evolution of cultural practices and biota (29,42,44,45,51,62,71,72). Some early horticultural land use regimes may have resembled those of firestick farming (65), shaping dynamic mosaics of cropped and fallow patches across landscapes that resemble the swidden, or shifting cultivation systems, still operating in some regions today (73,74). ...
... Pastoral societies, sustained by the grazing of domesticated livestock, emerged in different regions through multiple pathways that remain subject to competing claims (31,62,63,(80)(81)(82)(83)(84)(85). Three main pathways of animal domestication have been identified: the prey pathway, in which societies manage prey species to improve their productivity, shifting from game management to herd management; the commensal pathway, in which domesticates coevolve through their attraction to a shared anthropogenic habitat; and the directed pathway, in which societies already dependent on domesticates intentionally apply selection for tameness and other traits to favored species (80,81). ...
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Human use of land has been transforming Earth's ecology for millennia. From hunting and foraging to burning the land to farming to industrial agriculture, increasingly intensive human use of land has reshaped global patterns of biodiversity, ecosystems, landscapes, and climate. This review examines recent evidence from archaeology, paleoecology, environmental history, and model-based reconstructions that reveal a planet largely transformed by land use over more than 10,000 years. Although land use has always sustained human societies, its ecological consequences are diverse and sometimes opposing, both degrading and enriching soils, shrinking wild habitats and shaping novel ones, causing extinctions of some species while propagating and domesticating others, and both emitting and absorbing the greenhouse gases that cause global climate change. By transforming Earth's ecology, land use has literally paved the way for the Anthropocene. Now, a better future depends on land use strategies that can effectively sustain people together with the rest of terrestrial nature on Earth's limited land.
... O'Brien and Bentley (2015) noted that food storage is also a niche-constructing process. Smith (2007Smith ( , 2011Smith ( , 2015 argued that farming and the domestication of plants and animals are niche-constructing processes. Spengler (2015) noted that maintaining a mobile pastoral economy is a niche-constructing process. ...
... In a fascinating theoretical reversal, Smith, an outspoken anti-Human Behavioral Ecologist (Smith, 2012), claimed that an NCT approach "predicts that initial domestication occurred within a context of stable or enhanced resource availability and utilization in the absence of any evidence of resource depression and energy imbalance" (Smith, 2015:239). In fact, further showcasing the lack of unification, Smith (2007Smith ( , 2011Smith ( , 2012Smith ( , 2015 has largely reframed the NCT explanation of the origins-of-agriculture questions to match his preexisting theoretical stance. ...
... The contradictions between the Laland (Laland et al., 2000(Laland et al., , 2001Laland & O'Brien, 2010; and the Smith (2007), Smith, 2011, Smith, 2012, Smith, 2015Smith & Zeder, 2013) application of NCT has set in motion a heated debate, which has, oddly, pitted NCT in opposition to optimal foraging theory (Mohlenhoff & Codding, 2017;Mohlenhoff et al., 2015;Piperno et al., 2017;Smith, 2012Smith, , 2015Zeder, 2015bZeder, , 2018Wallach, 2016). I see no merit in perpetuating this debate here but encourage interested scholars to read the cited references. ...
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Over the past decade, niche construction theory (NCT) has been one of the fastest-growing theories or scholarly approaches in the social sciences, especially within archaeology. It was proposed in the biological sciences 25 years ago and is often referred to as a neglected evolutionary mechanism. Given its rapid acceptance by the archaeological community, it is important that scholars consider how it is being applied and look for discrepancies between applications of the concept. Many critical discussions of NCT have already been published, but most of them are in biology journals and may be overlooked by scholars in the social sciences. In this manuscript, my goal is to synthesis the criticisms of NCT, better allowing archaeologists to independently evaluate its usefulness. I focus on the claims of novelty and differences between NCT and other approaches to conceptualizing anthropogenic ecosystem impacts and culture-evolution feedbacks. I argue that the diverse concepts currently included in the wide-reaching purview of NCT are not new, but the terminology is and may be useful to some scholars. If proponents of the concept are able to unify their ideas, it may serve a descriptive function, but given that lack of a testable explanatory mechanism, it does not have a clear heuristic function.
... As Rindos points out, this does not have to be done intentionally for the benefit of the plants, but it creates new ecological conditions, or niches, and some plants will take advantage of them. These colonizing species, sometimes called weeds, benefit from the processes that create agroecologies and some of these species are useful to humans, so they are maintained and protected [14,15,[60][61][62]; they may be selected and become domesticated [2,32,62]. ...
... In most cases, this diversity becomes part of agroforestry systems. People report recognizing and naming phenotypic variants among these protected species [15,60,61,169]. Such recognition is relevant because the named phenotypes have different attributes that are also differently valued by people. For instance, people recognize "quelites" with good texture and flavor (commonly called "female" plants) and distinguish them from others with more rigid texture and bitter flavor (commonly called "male" plants); furthermore, people distinguish varieties of small and large "tomates" [60]. ...
... Such recognition is relevant because the named phenotypes have different attributes that are also differently valued by people. For instance, people recognize "quelites" with good texture and flavor (commonly called "female" plants) and distinguish them from others with more rigid texture and bitter flavor (commonly called "male" plants); furthermore, people distinguish varieties of small and large "tomates" [60]. This distinction leads to the selection favoring desirable phenotypes, increasing their frequencies in agroforestry systems or in different aged fallows, and thus represents traits of the domestication syndrome [15]. ...
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The Neolithic Revolution narrative associates early-mid Holocene domestications with the development of agriculture that fueled the rise of late Holocene civilizations. This narrative continues to be influential, even though it has been deconstructed by archaeologists and geneticists in its homeland. To further disentangle domestication from reliance on food production systems, such as agriculture, we revisit definitions of domestication and food production systems, review the late Pleistocene-early Holocene archaeobotanical record, and quantify the use, management and domestication of Neotropical plants to provide insights about the past. Neotropical plant domestication relies on common human behaviors (selection, accumulation and caring) within Citation: Clement, C.R.; Casas, A.; Parra-Rondinel, F.A.; Levis, C.; Peroni, N.; Hanazaki, N.; Cortés-Zárraga, L.; Rangel-Landa, S.; Alves, R.P.; Ferreira, M.J.; et al. Disentangling Domestication from Food Production Systems in the Neotropics. Quaternary 2021, 4, 4.
... Although evolutionary frameworks have been used to assess human behaviour for decades (see [57] as an example), their popularity has increased substantially in recent decades. More specifically, the latest explanatory approaches to the OA are either derived from Evolutionary Ecology (EE) -inclusive of Human Behavioural Ecology (HBE)- [4,[58][59][60], from Niche Construction Theory (NCT) [2,3,9,61,62], or from integrative approaches comprising EE, NCT and models of cultural transmission and gene-culture coevolution that envisage all the perspectives involved as complementary, synergetic and broadening each other [58,[63][64][65][66][67][68][69]. ...
... Thence, according to NCT, domestication arose from large-scale human efforts at ecosystem enhancement in the absence of any sort of population-resources disequilibrium [2]. More specifically, NCT representatives [9,61,62,77,78] consider that agriculture would have emerged in climatically stable resourcerich scenarios (usually near water), where small-scale societies would have established small semi-permanent to permanent central settlements, and within which a wide range of plant and animal species would have been comprehensively auditioned over many generations, evolving just a subset of them into domesticates [2]. ...
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The transition to agriculture is regarded as a major turning point in human history. In the present contribution we propose to look at it through the lens of ethnographic data by means of a machine learning approach. More specifically, we analyse both the subsistence economies and the socioecological context of 1290 societies documented in the Ethnographic Atlas with a threefold purpose: (i) to better understand the variability and success of human economic choices; (ii) to assess the role of environmental settings in the configuration of the different subsistence economies; and (iii) to examine the relevance of fishing in the development of viable alternatives to cultivation. All data were extracted from the publicly available cross-cultural database D-PLACE. Our results suggest that not all subsistence combinations are viable, existing just a subset of successful economic choices that appear recurrently in specific ecological systems. The subsistence economies identified are classified as either primary or mixed economies in accordance with an information-entropy-based quantitative criterion that determines their degree of diversification. Remarkably, according to our results, mixed economies are not a marginal choice, as they constitute 25% of the cases in our data sample. In addition, fishing seems to be a key element in the configuration of mixed economies, as it is present across all of them.
... The behaviour predicted by the cultural niche construction model derives from principles of cultural evolutionary theory, niche construction theory and human behavioural ecology acting in concert under the constraint of sublinear marginal returns imposed by equation (8). Cultural niche construction theory predicts that E out will be maximized by human societies 54 , while the principle of net energy maximization of human behavioural ecology predicts that individuals will minimize the E in required to achieve a given level of output 55,56 . The only means to achieve these goals simultaneously is a continual process of niche construction and technological innovation that increases output and labour productivity ( Fig. 1). ...
... The theory and data presented here provide a mechanistic and mathematical framework with which social scientists can make reasonable inferences about the dynamic cross-cultural process that links innovation, intensification, population growth and the evolution of large-scale complex societies (Fig. 3). The process outlined in Fig. 3 gives causal primacy to the processes of cultural evolution and niche construction, or what has been termed 'cultural niche construction' 54 . Cultural niche construction recognizes the primary role played by the evolved capacity to acquire, comprehend and transmit knowledge about what Odling-Smee and colleagues 57 refer to as the 'casual texture' of the biotic and abiotic environment. ...
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The intensification of food production plays a central role in the evolution of complex human societies. However, it is unclear whether the standard model of intensification is theoretically or empirically justified. This leaves social scientists unable to make reasonable inferences about the relationship between intensification and the evolution of social complexity in past societies. To remedy this problem, I derive a model of intensification from human macroecology, settlement scaling theory, human behavioural ecology, cultural evolutionary theory and niche construction theory. The standard and cultural niche construction models are formalized and their predictions are tested using a comprehensive ethnographic dataset that describes food production in 40 human societies, ranging in complexity from foraging bands to agricultural states. Analysis of the ethnographic record suggests that we reject the standard model and tentatively accept the cultural niche construction model. I attempt to demonstrate the broader utility of the cultural niche construction model as a framework that may help explain the transition from small-scale to large-scale complex societies.
... It includes diverse taxa, ancient cultures, and geographies, with research focused on how a broad range of domesticated plants and animals developed independently in many parts of the world at different times Langlie et al., 2014;Larson et al., 2014). In the past several years, archaeologists working on the origins of agriculture have identified previously unrecognized regions of native crop domestication (Denham et al., 2003;Fritz, 1990;Fuller & Hildebrand, 2013); they have extended the period of time over which domestication is thought to have occurred (Brown et al., 2009;Fuller, 2007;Fuller et al., 2009Fuller et al., , 2010Fuller et al., , 2012Purugganan & Fuller, 2009, 2011Tanno & Willcox, 2006); and they have substantiated and clarified the idea of domestication as a phenomenon occurring along the forager-farmer continuum rather than one wedded to agricultural economies (Fuller et al., 2011, p. 638;Langlie et al., 2014Langlie et al., , pp. 1605Langlie et al., -1606Smith, 2001Smith, , 2011. ...
... It includes diverse taxa, ancient cultures, and geographies, with research focused on how a broad range of domesticated plants and animals developed independently in many parts of the world at different times Langlie et al., 2014;Larson et al., 2014). In the past several years, archaeologists working on the origins of agriculture have identified previously unrecognized regions of native crop domestication (Denham et al., 2003;Fritz, 1990;Fuller & Hildebrand, 2013); they have extended the period of time over which domestication is thought to have occurred (Brown et al., 2009;Fuller, 2007;Fuller et al., 2009Fuller et al., , 2010Fuller et al., , 2012Purugganan & Fuller, 2009, 2011Tanno & Willcox, 2006); and they have substantiated and clarified the idea of domestication as a phenomenon occurring along the forager-farmer continuum rather than one wedded to agricultural economies (Fuller et al., 2011, p. 638;Langlie et al., 2014Langlie et al., , pp. 1605Langlie et al., -1606Smith, 2001Smith, , 2011. ...
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The study of agricultural origins has been revolutionized by genomic science. Whole genome sequencing of plant domesticates opens a door to multiple new approaches by which the timing, nature, and geography of human selective pressures on the evolution of domesticated species might be detected. These new scientific pathways greatly enhance understandings of domestication as an evolutionary process, but they also renew long-standing questions for archaeologists about whether and how to perceive human agency in the ancient past of human–plant interspecies relations. Due to its importance as a global commercial crop, the apple (Malus x domestica Borkh.) was the tenth plant genome to be successfully sequenced in 2010. The genomic record of the apple reveals a deep history of human–plant co-evolution by unconscious selection, domestication through hybridization, and a phylogeographic origin in Central Asia. The first two of these insights document a domesticate that has evolved from protracted and unconscious processes, but the third—the identification of the progenitor Malus sieversii (Ledeb.) M. Roem. in Central Asia, and the necessary corollary that its hybridization arose along the ‘Silk Road’—invites further discussion about the roles of human agency and intentionality in the initial stages of plant domestication. This paper presents a review of apple domestication studies in archaeology and genetics and considers the problematic of Central Asia and the Silk Road in the current paradigm shift of agricultural origins research.
... A este respecto pensamos que la teoría de construcción de nicho, podría dar un poco de luz para entender esta relación entre la naturaleza y las sociedades, relación en la que no se puede separar los elementos que la componen. Así las sociedades modifican su entorno y el entorno modifica a las sociedades (Smith, 2011). De esta relación indivisible se genera conocimiento a partir del cual no solo se sabe o se conoce lo que es "bueno para comer", sino también las sofisticadas relaciones y retroalimentaciones de los elementos naturales. ...
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Los complejos bioculturales de Veracruz han florecido a lo largo de la historia, sustentados en una rica diversidad ecosistémica y la presencia no solo de distintos grupos étnicos sino también de poblaciones mestizas con variopintas raíces culturales. Existen importantes gradientes altitudinales y latitudinales, y una relativa abundancia de humedad, que en buena medida explican la diversidad ecológica. En todo el estado, en particular en las zonas serranas, están asentadas numerosas comunidades indígenas, pertenecientes a distintos pueblos originarios: encontramos, de norte a sur, téenek, ñuhú, tepehuas, nahuas de la Huasteca, totonacos, nahuas del sur, popolucas, zapotecos, zoques y chinantecos, además de diversas comunidades afrodescendientes. Trenzándose ambos tipos de diversidad dan origen a una importante riqueza biocultural, que se manifiesta en un abanico de prácticas productivas, estrategias de cuidado del territorio, modalidades organizativas y cosmovisiones. Desgraciadamente, todas ellas se encuentran amenazadas por procesos de deterioro ambiental y empobrecimiento cultural, hoy acentuados por la expansión del modelo extractivista. Si a ello añadimos que Veracruz es un estado muy vulnerable al cambio climático, es más que patente la importancia de los complejos bioculturales. En un escenario plagado de incertidumbres, son estos complejos los que pueden permitir incrementar la resiliencia socioambiental.
... Fermentation brings together many topics of interest to ethnobiologists [13], including health, local ecological management, place-and practice-based knowledge, qualitative experiences with the natural world, and the advocacy of local food sovereignty in the face of an increasingly homogenized [14] global food system. Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have shown how humans shape landscapes and domesticate species in ways that benefit their wellbeing while simultaneously creating a new set of ecological parameters that structure human and environmental possibilities [15,16]. The same dynamics occur within the human body, where human health, food production, and local food cultures shape and are shaped by the microbial worlds we share. ...
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Background The composition of the human microbiome varies considerably in diversity and density across communities as a function of the foods we eat and the places we live. While all foods contain microbes, humans directly shape this microbial ecology through fermentation. Fermented foods are produced from microbial reactions that depend on local environmental conditions, fermentation practices, and the manner in which foods are prepared and consumed. These interactions are of special interest to ethnobiologists because they link investigations of how people shape and know the world around them to local knowledge, food traditions, local flora, and microbial taxa. Methods In this manuscript, we report on data collected at a fermentation revivalist workshop in Tennessee. To ask how fermentation traditions are learned and influence macro and micro ecologies, we conducted interviews with eleven people and participated in a four-day craft fermentation workshop. We also collected 46 fermented food products and 46 stool samples from workshop participants eating those fermented foods. Results We identified ten major themes comprised of 29 sub-themes drawn from 326 marked codes in the transcripts. In combination, this analysis allowed us to summarize key experiences with fermentation, particularly those related to a sense of authenticity, place, health, and the discovery of tactile work. From the 605 amplicon sequence variants (ASVs) shared between food and fecal samples, we identified 25 candidate ASVs that are suspected to have been transmitted from fermented food samples to the gut microbiomes of the workshop participants. Our results indicate that many of the foods prepared and consumed during the workshop were rich sources of probiotic microbes. Conclusions By combining these qualitative social and quantitative microbiological data, we suggest that variation in culturally informed fermentation practices introduces variation in bacterial flora even among very similar foods, and that these food products can influence gut microbial ecology.
... It may be logical to assume that this domestication of landscapes was a precursor of the welldefined catchment areas that were maintained by prehistoric people prior to settled agriculture. This is particularly likely when they were practising low-level food production with wild-plant husbandry, growing wild species of cereal plants or tuber crops and intensifying their resource base (Smith, 2001(Smith, , 2011a. Intensification of resources through various means of landscape engineering has been documented vividly across the Amazon of South America, Cuzco of Peru, and Chinampas of Mexico (Erickson, 1992(Erickson, , 2002(Erickson, , 2006(Erickson, , 2008. ...
Chapter
In this chapter, I shall review the diversity of historical shifting cultivation in the highlands of India and synthesize the its implications it held for on the domestication, evolution, and diversification of major crops. Situating it within the wider realms of human-environment interaction, I shall also call on past human niche-constructing behaviour to offer better explanations.
... Thus, the advent of a sedentary way of life dovetailed with the emergence of an early sense of possession. As groups became more closely attached to a certain place and invested in their immediate surroundings, they probably began cultivating prefatory claims of ownership 19,20 . In this vein, the Natufian culture is also notable for introducing a new sort of geopolitics: the emergence of socio-territorial entities, a landscape of more-or-less distinct spatial units attached to organic groups, probably separated from one another by unclaimed "buffer zones. ...
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How hunter-gatherers manipulated and utilised their natural surroundings is a widely studied topic among anthropologists and archaeologists alike. This focuses on the Natufian culture of the Late Epipalaeolithic period ( c. 15–11.7 kyr), the last Levantine hunter-gatherer population, and specifically on the earliest composite tools designed for harvesting. These tools are widely referred to as sickles. They consisted of a haft into which a groove was cut and flint inserts affixed. This revolutionised harvesting and established it on new grounds. While the plants manipulated by these tools are yet to be identified with certainty, it is evident that these implements were rapidly integrated and dispersed throughout the Natufian interaction sphere, suggesting that they provided a significant advantage, which probably constituted a critical step toward agriculture. At the same time, the Natufian haft assemblage demonstrates high morphometric variability. We review the available data concerning Natufian hafts and offer three possible models to explain the noted variability. We conclude that while these models are not mutually exclusive, this varied technological pattern is best understood as deriving from a protracted formative phase of technological development, progressing through incremental processes of trial and error.
... Thus, the advent of a sedentary way of life dovetailed with the emergence of an early sense of possession. As groups became more closely attached to a certain place and invested in their immediate surroundings, they probably began cultivating prefatory claims of ownership 19,20 . In this vein, the Natufian culture is also notable for introducing a new sort of geopolitics: the emergence of socio-territorial entities, a landscape of more-or-less distinct spatial units attached to organic groups, probably separated from one another by unclaimed "buffer zones. ...
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We present the results of a detailed geochemical provenance study of 54 Natufian (ca. 15,000–11,700 cal. BP) basalt pestles from the site of el-Wad Terrace (EWT), Israel. It is the first time precise locations from where basalt raw materials were derived are provided. The results indicate that the Natufian hunter-gatherers used multiple sources of basaltic rocks, distributed over a large area surrounding the Sea of Galilee. This area is located at a considerable distance from EWT, ca. 60–120 km away, in a region where contemporaneous Natufian basecamps are few. We consider two possible models that suggest vehicles for the transportation of these artifacts to EWT, namely the exchange obtaining model (EOM) and the direct procurement model (DPM). We argue that these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and may have operated together. We also suggest that at a time of increasing Natufian territoriality, a large area around the Sea of Galilee remained unclaimed. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications for the two models. In particular, we note that the DPM implies that technological know-how for pestle production was maintained within the EWT community.
... Pães-de-índio nos falam, antes de qualquer coisa, sobre a diversidade de plantas alimentícias e os sistemas de conhecimentos a elas associados e podem ser ainda bons indicadores de práticas culturais indígenas que resultaram na construção de nichos (Smith, 2012;Arroyo-Kalin, 2014). De modo mais específico e eloquente, eles nos informam sobre as técnicas de extração da matéria-prima, as práticas de preparo e o armazenamento de alimentos vegetais, nos convencendo de uma vez por todas que os grupos amazônicos levavam uma vida de abundância, tal como argumentou Sahlins (1978), no seu famoso ensaio sobre "A primeira sociedade da afluência". ...
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Resumo A elaboração de tecnologia de armazenamento de alimentos pelos povos indígenas da Amazônia é um tema descrito desde os relatos dos primeiros cronistas europeus na região. Frequentemente são encontrados, de maneira fortuita ou em sítios arqueológicos, artefatos culturais denominados ‘pães-de-índio’, presentes em diversos ambientes e bacias hidrográficas e relatados pelos moradores locais como um composto de plantas processadas e enterradas, comestíveis mesmo depois de anos enterrados. A partir da década de 1980, porém, uma série de trabalhos botânicos e micológicos vem classificando estes supostos pães como um fungo do gênero Pachyma Fr., Polyporus indigenus. Este artigo apresenta evidências arqueológicas, microbotânicas e etnográficas que mostram que pães-de-índio foram compostos preparados pelo processamento de espécies frutíferas e tuberosas, amplamente descritas pelos povos indígenas. Apresentamos os resultados da primeira tentativa de extrair grãos de amido de dois desses artefatos, os quais testaram positivamente para grãos de amido de milho, pimenta, batata-mairá e outras espécies de vegetais. Este texto dedica-se a demonstrar, ainda, que pães-de-índio são o testemunho do manejo e do uso da diversidade de plantas da floresta e do emprego de um conjunto de instrumentos e técnicas de produção com fins ao armazenamento de alimento.
... BP), and construct a "history of a place" [13] in order to get closer to the local processes of cultural transformations, entangled traditions, and innovations [35,36]. Aside from its location in Southwestern Amazonia, a region recognized as an ancient hub of plant cultivation, domestication, and cultural niche construction since >10,000 yr BP [5,7,[37][38][39], the Monte Castelo site has played a key role in debates surrounding the origins of agriculture since the 1980s [2,40,41]. ...
... Thus, the advent of a sedentary way of life dovetailed with the emergence of an early sense of possession. As groups became more closely attached to a certain place and invested in their immediate surroundings, they probably began cultivating prefatory claims of ownership 19,20 . In this vein, the Natu an culture is also notable for introducing a new sort of geopolitics: the emergence of socioterritorial entities, a landscape of more-or-less distinct spatial units attached to organic groups, probably separated from one another by unclaimed "buffer zones." ...
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We present the results of a detailed geochemical provenance study of 54 Natufian (ca. 15,000–11,700 cal BP) basalt pestles from the site of el-Wad Terrace (EWT), Israel. It is the first time precise locations whence basalt raw materials derive are provided. The results indicate that the Natufian hunter-gatherers used multiple sources of basaltic rocks, distributed over a large area surrounding the Sea of Galilee. For EWT, this area is located at a considerable distance of ca. 60–120 km away, in a region where contemporaneous Natufian basecamps are few. We consider two possible models that suggest vehicles for the transportation of these artifacts to EWT, namely the exchange obtaining model (EOM) and the direct procurement model (DPM). We argue that these mechanisms are not mutually exclusive and may have operated together. We also suggest that at a time of increasing Natufian territoriality, a large area around the Sea of Galilee remained unclaimed. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the implications for the two models. In particular, we note that the DPM implies that technological know-how for pestle production was maintained within the EWT community.
... White-tailed deer in eastern North America play a large role in this debate because, as the highest-ranking prey type commonly exploited in the region, their abundance speaks to the state of the Native subsistence economy on the eve of domestication, whether intensified or not. Smith (2011Smith ( , 2012Smith ( , 2015 argues that there is no evidence for reduced foraging efficiency and intensification, whether induced by resource depression or environmental change, prior to initial domestication. To support his claim, he cites qualitative faunal data indicating that deer remains were abundant at the earliest sites with evidence of domestication (Smith 2011;Smith and Yarnell 2009:6565). ...
Article
Resource depression – a decline in encounter rates with prey due to the actions of a predator – has been documented for numerous species in North America. Yet it is not fully understood whether white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), the most common prey species for Native peoples in eastern North America, were depressed prior to European colonization. To investigate whether white-tailed deer were depressed in precolonial eastern North America, I analyze zooarchaeological data from six sites in the Middle Tennessee River Valley. My results are equivocal, as different lines of evidence support conflicting interpretations. Declines in the abundance of deer in upland sites after ca. 4000 cal BP support depression of deer. However, deer did not decline in floodplain sites, perhaps due to anthropogenic environmental modification (i.e., burning). The upland decline coincides with a shift toward greater wetland patch use, which may have driven a reduction in deer hunting due to patch choice dynamics, not depression. Furthermore, declining deer abundance co-occurs with high terrestrial foraging efficiency, contrary to the expectation that greater exploitation of lower-ranked prey types should occur coincident with high-ranked deer declines. I find no clear support for resource depression of white-tailed deer in this region, but further analysis is needed.
... BP), and construct a "history of a place" [13] in order to get closer to the local processes of cultural transformations, entangled traditions, and innovations [35,36]. Aside from its location in Southwestern Amazonia, a region recognized as an ancient hub of plant cultivation, domestication, and cultural niche construction since >10,000 yr BP [5,7,[37][38][39], the Monte Castelo site has played a key role in debates surrounding the origins of agriculture since the 1980s [2,40,41]. ...
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Recent advances in the archaeology of lowland South America are furthering our understanding of the Holocene development of plant cultivation and domestication, cultural niche construction , and relationships between environmental changes and cultural strategies of food production. This article offers new data on plant and landscape management and mobility in Southwestern Amazonia during a period of environmental change at the Middle to Late Holocene transition, based on archaeobotanical analysis of the Monte Castelo shellmound, occupied between 6000 and 650 yr BP and located in a modern, seasonally flooded savanna-forest mosaic. Through diachronic comparisons of carbonized plant remains, phytoliths, and starch grains, we construct an ecology of resource use and explore its implications for the long-term history of landscape formation, resource management practices, and mobility. We show how, despite important changes visible in the archaeological record of the shellmound during this period, there persisted an ancient, local, and resilient pattern of plant management which implies a degree of stability in both subsistence and settlement patterns over the last 6000 years. This pattern is characterized by management practices that relied on increasingly diversified, rather than intensive, food production systems. Our findings have important implications in debates regarding the history of settlement permanence, population growth, and carrying capacity in the Amazon basin.
... Domestication has irrevocably shaped the history, demography, and evolution of humans. It is a complex phenomenon which can be seen as a continuum of relationships between humans and nonhuman organisms, ranging from commensalism or mutualism to low-level management (e.g., game keeping or herd management) or, even, direct control by humans over resource supply and reproduction (Terrell et al., 2003;Smith, 2011;Teletchea and Fontaine, 2014;Zeder, 2014Zeder, , 2015. This continuum should not be seen as an obligatory succession of different relationships, which ultimately always ends by human control over reproduction, for all species involved in a domestication process. ...
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• Insect farming is expected to expand in the near future, but domestication is a long and difficult process which is often unsuccessful. Considering hits and misses from past directed domestications of insects and other species, we here provide a workflow to avoid common pitfalls in directed domestication programs. • This workflow underlines that it is crucial to find relevant candidate species for domestication. Candidate species must address human need/demand and meet a set of minimal requirements that shape their domestication potential. The domestication potential can be defined through an integrative assessment of key traits involved in biological functions. • Geographic differentiation of key traits in a candidate species and the maintenance of adaptative potential of farmed populations should also be considered to facilitate domestication and answer to future challenges.
... We were limited to one growing season by the circumstances of the first author's employment, so we did not have time to establish a seed bank and rely on slow waves of germination. For some crops, the initial stages of domestication may have relied on the manipulation of such natural cycles of spontaneous germination (Smith 2011). However, the domestication syndromes of many of our annual seed crops reflect selective pressures that likely arose when ancient cultivators started to save and plant seed and stopped relying on pre-existing seed dispersal mechanisms and seed maturation in the soil (Harlan et al. 1973). ...
... A este respecto pensamos que la teoría de construcción de nicho, podría dar un poco de luz para entender esta relación entre la naturaleza y las sociedades, relación en la que no se puede separar los elementos que la componen. Así las sociedades modifican su entorno y el entorno modifica a las sociedades (Smith, 2011). De esta relación indivisible se genera conocimiento a partir del cual no solo se sabe o se conoce lo que es "bueno para comer", sino también las sofisticadas relaciones y retroalimentaciones de los elementos naturales. ...
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Un ejercicio de conceptualización y definición de varios complejos bioculturales en distintos estados de la República Mexicana. El que se comparte en co-autoría con Gerardo Alatorre y Claudia Isabel Camacho se refiere a tres del estado de Veracruz.
... Archaeologists are of course most interested in the implications of NCT for human interactions with their environments, and this is particularly true of research on domestication (see below). Bruce Smith (2012Smith ( , 2014 argues that NCT provides a much better explanation for plant (and animal) domestication than HBE or human ecology more generally can do, particularly as it does not require the assumption that humans were adapting to adverse climatic changes or population growth that restricted resource availability. We can expect that many of the resource-collecting behaviors and mobility decisions of Pleistocene and early Holocene hunter-gatherers to have had substantial impacts on the distribution and density of both desirable and undesirable plants. ...
Chapter
This chapter reviews archaeobotany (or paleoethnobotany), beginning with taphonomic effects on the probability that various kinds of plant remains are preserved and analyzed before discussing sampling and recovery methods and the character and descriptive terms for some classes of macroremains (seeds, charcoal, nutshell), microremains (pollen, phytoliths, starch grains), and chemical residues. The last part of the chapter discusses some of the major research areas of archaeobotany, including food practices, the origins of food production, and tracking climate change. It concludes with a case study on sample size.
... Although our definition of agriculture does not require domestication, in human agriculture domestication preceded agriculture in most cases (Fuller et al. 2014;chapter 10, this volume), and, in nonhuman agriculture, most cases involve a oneway or a two-way obligate mutualism between the farming species and a domesticated symbiont. Various ecological interactions, such as central-place foraging, niche construction, and incidental cultivation, have been suggested as consistent precursors to agriculture (Smith 2011a(Smith , 2011bAllaby et al. 2015;chapter 14, this volume). Here we will use the umbrella term proto-agriculture to refer to such preagricultural ecologies and behaviors. ...
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Across most terrestrial habitats, ants engage in complicated relationships with other organisms. Ants are the only entirely eusocial family of insects: all 13,628 described species of Formicidae live in organized societies divided into reproductive and worker castes. They have profound impacts on their habitats not only through their sheer numbers, but also due to the roles they play in food webs and nutrient cycling, as well as in the diverse symbioses they form with other organisms. The majority of these relationships-with other animals and with plants, fungi, and microorganisms-are poorly understood. Some of those that are better researched are shown to share striking similarities with human interspecies interactions, including agriculture. This, in turn, suggests that agriculture is not a unique human behavior but that it has instead evolved convergently in very distantly related organisms.
... Todo el contexto etnográfico arawá está fuertemente asociado al uso y la manipulación de venenos vegetales (Prance, 1986;Huber, 201;Shiratori, 2018Shiratori, , 2020Aparício, 2019). Es posible observar la formación de nichos culturales (Smith, 2012) como parte de la integración entre las actividades de manejo vegetal y de la pesca, entre otros. La presencia de plantas arbustivas no comestibles aún es poco considerada en estudios sobre la formación de nichos culturales y paisajes domesticados, en virtud del desconocimiento sobre sus usos y de su baja visibilidad florística (Levis et al., 2018). ...
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Con el fin de restaurar, aunque parcialmente, la memoria de las intensas relaciones que existían entre los distintos pueblos arawá de la región del medio curso del río Purus, este artículo aborda, a través del entrelazamiento de la vida humana y la vegetal, la socialidad que acabó rompiéndose, las historias que algún día se compartieron, pero también los vínculos que aún reverdecen en los bosques. La ciencia matera, atenta a las plantas y a los vestigios antrópicos presentes en los bosques, muestra caminos insospechados
... Hence, precise traditional management practices, performed at local scales, (dis)favor the occurrence of certain phenotypes or species with important implications at the landscape level [89]. Wide-ranging practices, in order to increase the relative abundance of certain species at the expense of others, may result in large-scale patterns of transformation, which have been termed cultural niche construction [90] and landscape domestication [85,91]. These transformations of natural spaces are inherited among human groups in the form of ecological-and hence geographicinheritance [92], and the permanence of transformed spaces is accomplished by the continuity of management practices through time. ...
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Palm plants provide important benefits for rural communities around the world. Of the 95 native palm species in Mexico, Brahea dulcis (Soyate palm) has been tagged as an important resource for many Mesoamerican ethnical groups. Scientific and empirical knowledge concerning Soyate is thematically fragmented and disassociated, meaning that sound sustainable management is far from established. Research of over 20 years has permitted us to document ecological, cultural and geographical outcomes of B. dulcis; thus, the present paper aims at compiling all knowledge on Soyate to eventually guide its long-term management. It was conducted in two stages: firstly, it comprised a thorough review of previous studies on the management of B. dulcis in Mexico; secondly, we integrated unpublished outcomes obtained from fieldwork, including participatory ground-truth validation and semi-structured interviews obtained from local ethnic groups. Five factors guided our compilation effort: (i) biological and ecological information, (ii) cultural importance, (iii) economic triggers, (iv) traditional management, and (v) ecological and ecogeographical implications of Soyate palm management. The present paper confirms that B. dulcis is an important cultural resource whose utilization can be traced back over 10,000 years. The leaves of Soyate are the most useful part of the palm and were profusely used in the past for thatching roofs and weaving domestic and agricultural objects. Currently, however, palm-leaf weaving is primarily oriented toward satisfying economic needs. We depicted ten management practices aimed at favoring palm availability. Most of these management practices have enhanced sustainable palm leaf harvesting; however, these practices harbor spatial trends that turn highly diverse habitats into Soyate-dominated spaces. To conclude, we propose a framework to describe sound and sustainable Soyate management in the light of the current long-term Soyate-human relationship. It is here acknowledged that Soyate has played and continues to play a critical socioeconomic and cultural role for many ethnical groups in Central Mexico. Nonetheless, emerging challenges concerning the sustainability of the whole socioecological system at a landscape level are yet to be overcome.
... 341). Similarly, B. D.Smith (2011Smith ( , 2016 recognizes the major evolutionary role that early anthropogenic domestication of plants and animals had on the Earth's history. ...
Thesis
The present doctoral dissertation explores the birth and epistemology of the Anthropocene Hypothesis - that is, the 'stratigraphic' or 'geological' variant of the broader 'Anthropocene' concept. A fundamental target of the research is separating conceptually between the 'Anthropocene' as a boundary object - borrowed, re-shaped, and re-adapted by humanities, social sciences, and extra-academic domains - and the Anthropocene Hypothesis as the formulation of the 'Anthropocene' into stratigraphic grounds. A second related target is delineating an epistemology (i.e., the fundamental knowledge statements and epistemic context) of the Anthropocene Hypothesis based on its birth, its empirical body, its theoretical virtues, and the debates surrounding it. The research locates at the intersection of History and Philosophy of Science, Anthropocene Studies, and Interdisciplinary Research.
... documented among non-agricultural societies for environmental and/or cultural reasons, for 575 protecting or promoting the relative abundance of a species, or for reducing the energy involved 576 in its harvesting (Fuller et al., 2011;Smith, 2011). 577 578 ...
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Forager focus on wild cereal plants has been documented in the core zone of domestication in southwestern Asia, while evidence for forager use of wild grass grains remains sporadic elsewhere. In this paper, we present starch grain and phytolith analyses of dental calculus from 60 Mesolithic and Early Neolithic individuals from five sites in the Danube Gorges of the central Balkans. This zone was inhabited by likely complex Holocene foragers for several millennia before the appearance of the first farmers ~6200 cal BC. We also analyzed forager ground stone tools for evidence of plant processing. Our results based on the study of dental calculus show that certain species of Poaceae (species of the genus Aegilops ) were used since the Early Mesolithic, while ground stone tools exhibit traces of a developed grass grain processing technology. The adoption of domesticated plants in this region after ~6500 cal BC might have been eased by the existing familiarity with wild cereals.
... harvesting (Fuller et al., 2011;Smith, 2011). 547 548 ...
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Forager focus on wild cereal plants has been documented in the core zone of domestication in southwestern Asia, while evidence for forager use of wild grass grains remains sporadic elsewhere. In this paper, we present starch grain and phytolith analyses of dental calculus from 61 Mesolithic and Early Neolithic individuals from five sites in the Danube Gorges of the central Balkans. This zone was inhabited by likely complex Holocene foragers for several millennia before the appearance of the first farmers ~6200 cal BC. We also analyzed forager ground stone tools for evidence of plant processing. Our results based on the study of dental calculus show that certain species of Poaceae (species of the genus Aegilops) were used since the Early Mesolithic, while ground stone tools exhibit traces of a developed grass grain processing technology. The adoption of domesticated plants in this region after ~6500 cal BC might have been eased by the existing familiarity with wild cereals.
... More recently, the role that environmental manipulation plays in the process of domestication has been elaborated through niche construction theory. This emphasises the creation and development of the anthropogenic environment, initiated through human manipulations such as burning, woodland clearance, soil preparation and water management, while plants colonised these disturbed soils and took advantage of the newly created fertile habitats (Smith 2007(Smith , 2011(Smith , 2016(Smith , 2016Zeder 2012Zeder , 2016. In this context, early attempts at cultivation can be seen as one type of human manipulation, within a broad range of strategies, where a wide range of species 'auditioned' as potential domesticates (Smith 2007). ...
Article
We synthesise the results of a large programme of plant ecological research to investigate the selective pressures driving crop domestication and the origins of agriculture in western Asia. We explore this primarily through a series of experiments, comparing the ecological characteristics of: (1) domesticated cereal and pulse species with their wild progenitors and (2) the wild progenitor species with other west Asian grasses and legumes that did not become domesticated during the emergence of agriculture. In particular, we consider the balance between deliberate human selection and unintended consequences of human actions in driving the domestication process. Taken together, our results provide the first empirical evidence to suggest that ecological processes, and unintended selection due to competition between growing plants within anthropogenic environments, may have played a more significant part in the emergence of agriculture than previously supposed. Such human-plant co-evolutionary mechanisms would render unnecessary the search for ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors, dependent on deliberate human invention to solve a problem or to satisfy a need, as prime movers to explain why hunter-gatherers switched to an agricultural way of life.
... Hi-Merimãcultural niches (cf. Smith et al., 2012) are also composed ofabiorana(Lucuma spp), abiu (Pouteria spp), several species of native cacao(Theobromaspp), sorva (Couma utilis), pequiá (Caryocarvillosum), açaí (E. precatoria) and bacaba (O. ...
Article
Inhabiting the middle Purus river basin, a branch of the Amazon river, Arawá-speaking groups have maintained permanent contact with non-indigenous society only in the last century. Here we provide an account of two Arawá subgroups, the Jamamadi and Hi-Merimã, in order to untangle apparent contradictions between their ways of living, respectively based on the predominance of cultivated plants in gardens and of forest plants. This approach is inspired by three / tree scenarios: the Hi-Merimã’s isolation from indigenous and non-indigenous people undertaken in the 1960′s, the report of a “false contact” that they would have began in 2016 and the Jamamadi’s recent and perhaps temporary decision to move into the forest after knowledge of the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides the apparent distance between gardener and gatherer ways of life, we highlight the proximity and fluidity that both share in terms of entanglements with plants, focusing on forms of sociality between groups, gardens and forests. Inspired by recent discussions regarding archaeological perspectives on plant use, ethnographic formulations of other-than-human relations, and historical ecology, we propose that both are cultural and not necessarily static choices. One is contained within and announces the other, and both are entangled in an oscillating movement of fusion and fission.
... [49][50][51] Smith and Zeder place their theory of behavior in opposition to foraging theory, 23,52,53 due to a concern that an over-reliance on the prey choice/diet breadth model among archeologists has led to a narrow focus on demography and resource depression as the main drivers of human niche construction behaviors. 37,54,55 As mentioned earlier, archeological applications of the diet breadth model have commonly argued that novel social, technological, and cultural behaviors in human groups, such as the origins of agriculture, were stimulated by efforts to mitigate lowered foraging efficiency caused by resource depression (itself sometimes linked to population growth). 6 Smith and Zeder instead prioritize stability and reliability as goals of human resource use strategies, and argue that humans actively modified environments to meet these objectives. ...
Article
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We examine the relationship between niche construction theory (NCT) and human behavioral ecology (HBE), two branches of evolutionary science that are important sources of theory in archeology. We distinguish between formal models of niche construction as an evolutionary process, and uses of niche construction to refer to a kind of human behavior. Formal models from NCT examine how environmental modification can change the selection pressures that organisms face. In contrast, formal models from HBE predict behavior assuming people behave adaptively in their local setting, and can be used to predict when and why people engage in niche construction. We emphasize that HBE as a field is much broader than foraging theory and can incorporate social and cultural influences on decision-making. We demonstrate how these approaches can be formally incorporated in a multi-inheritance framework for evolutionary research, and argue that archeologists can best contribute to evolutionary theory by building and testing models that flexibly incorporate HBE and NCT elements.
Article
This synthesis paper offers a comparative perspective on how seven different Mediterranean regions, from Iberia and Morocco to the Levant, have been transformed by human and natural agencies during the past 10 millennia. It draws on a range of data sources: notably (1) archaeological site surveys (n = 32,000) and ¹⁴C dates (n = 12,000) as proxies for long-term population change, (2) pollen records as a proxy for past vegetation and land cover (n = 253) and (3) proxies, such as stable isotopes, from lake, cave and marine records as indicators of hydro-climate (n = 47). Where possible, these data sets have been made spatially and temporally congruent in order to examine relationships between them statistically and graphically. Data have been aggregated or averaged for each region/sub-region and put into 200-year time windows. Archaeo-demographic data show a clear increase at the start of Neolithic farming, followed by a series of regionally asynchronous fluctuations in population, prior to a pan-Mediterranean Roman settlement maximum. Pollen data indicate a late-Holocene decline in %Arboreal Pollen in those regions that were initially well wooded, but not in drier regions of the southern/eastern Mediterranean. Overall, the clearest palynological proxy for human land cover change is provided by the OJCV (tree crop) index. The cultivation of these trees in the eastern Mediterranean after 6500 cal. yr BP may have been an adaptive response to mid-Holocene climatic desiccation. These anthropogenic pollen indicators correlate more closely with trends in population than with regional hydro-climatic z scores, implying that they reflect primarily human activities. During the mid Holocene, most Mediterranean landscapes were transformed by a combination of climate and rural land use, but after ~3500 cal. yr BP, human actions became increasingly dominant in determining land cover. During the past 1500 years, the dominant landscape trajectory in the eastern Mediterranean was markedly different to that in the central/western Mediterranean.
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The main purpose of the dissertation is to analyze the Iron Age (Yaz I-IV periods). settlement model in the oases of the Murghab and Tedjen rivers in Turkmenistan and distinguish changes that might have occurred therein. The dissertation is divided into six main chapters. In the introductory chapter, I put the research topic in a larger context of Central Asia archaeology (Chapter 1), present the geographical and chronological scope of the work and briefly characterize all phases of the Iron Age (Chapter 2). Next, I describe the history of research of the Yaz culture in the oases of the Murghab and Tedjen rivers and indicate what research problems were undertaken in previous studies (Chapter 3). Then, I describe the results of test trenches, and excavations carried out in the area. The research conducted here has been associated with the study of irrigation from the beginning, that is why I present the history and state of research on irrigation other adaptations in agriculture in Central Asia. In Chapter 4.1, I discuss how archeological theory has been influencing settlement patterns studies in archaeology. Also, I devote Chapter 4.2 to present selected aspects of landscape archeology and discuss the possibility of using them in my studies. Then, I describe methods that are used in the study of artificial irrigation in Middle Eastern archeology (Chapter 4.3) and discuss Central Place Theory and other methods used in the settlement analysis (Chapter 4.4). Afterward, I focus on the topic of accessibility of the area around human settlements in prehistoric communities (Chapter 4.5) and I discuss methods of studying the settlement structure and hierarchy in archeology (Chapter 4.6). Geographic Information Systems (GIS) methods play a key role in the dissertation, so in Part 4.7 I explain what algorithms and computer tools I use. Chapter 5 contains a description of the datasets (Chapter 5.1) and the GIS analyzes carried out to study settlement in the oases of Murgab and Tedjen rivers. Firstly, using GIS methods, I classify the landscape of oases into zones that differ in the degree of preservation of Iron Age settlements (Chapter 5.2). In the main part of the dissertation (Chapter 5.3), I use Exploratory Data Analysis approach by using different statistical methods and data visualization techniques to distinguish as many characteristics of the settlement of the studied periods as possible. Then, I combine the obtained results with the landscape analysis to indicate changes in the artificial irrigation system (Chapter 5.4). The work ends with a comparison of individual periods of the Yaz culture in both studied areas and a summary.
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Boresup's Theory of subsistence intensification is that as human populations grow, they give up "efficient" food-producing behaviors to increase the total food yield over a given unit of time or space. Anthropologists have vigorously debated this concept during the latter part of the twentieth century. They have proposed that dietary specialization and dietary diversification are two mechanisms responsible for subsistence intensification trends over time. On the North American Great Plains, archaeologists attribute the observed record of human dietary variation of at least 13,000 years, partially to the effects of human agency, temporal and regional variability in environmental conditions, and human and prey population dynamics. Despite this variation, an apparent big-game hunting specialization persisted in this region alongside more diversified strategies, until much later than in adjacent areas. This interpretation of specialized bison hunting proposed by early archaeologists likely fueled two widespread hypotheses: A) that prehistoric Great Plains indigenous people's lives were highly contingent on the vast herds of bison that roamed the region, and B) that through time, a simplified progression of subsistence intensification took place. This progression begins with highly specialized big-game hunters during the Paleoindian period (13,500–9,000 BP) and culminates with a much more diversified economy during the Late Prehistoric period (1000–300 BP) that included foraged and domesticated resources. However, these inferences remain unevaluated across the Great Plains' vast geographic range and its complete cultural chronology. To assess them, we employ a large dataset of dietary remains and investigate the broad patterns of dietary specialization and diversification used by Great Plains indigenous people over the past 13,500 years. Our analyses led to a twofold conclusion: 1) we find that even though prehistoric indigenous people of the Great Plains maintained a way of life associated with bison over time, bison was not the dominant hunted species in their diet; and 2) the hunting strategies and dietary variation that we observed on the Great Plains, through time, does not support a model of progressive resource intensification from hunting and gathering to farming. Instead, the data support a model of constant diversification of hunting strategies from the Paleoindian through the Late Prehistoric periods. In this model, hunters on the Plains (and elsewhere) maintained a consistently high resource diversity. We propose that this highly flexible and diversified portfolio of dietary strategies enabled the Great Plains people to successfully adapt their approaches to procuring food across different habitats and periods.
Article
Plant domestication is often discussed as a form of mutualism between humans and crop plants. Ethnographies provide records of a multitude of adaptive strategies employed by human societies with varying degrees of reliance on manipulation of wild plant resources. These manipulations have included vegetation clearance, controlled burning, pruning, coppicing, tilling, sowing and more. Such activities can be viewed as cultivation of wild plants (known as “pre-domestication cultivation” in the Near Eastern research milieu, or in a somewhat different framework as “low level food production”), often considered a necessary step leading to domestication. Since cultivated fields are constructed niches, Niche Construction Theory (NCT) has recently been recruited to provide a theoretical evolutionary framework for explaining plant domestication. This review on plant domestication in the Near East discusses elements that we consider intimately related to the abovementioned trajectories of thought: the concept of “pre-domestication cultivation”; the view that domesticated plants arose via evolutionary mutualism; and the conceptualization of plant domestication in terms of NCT. We review and discuss the logic of these approaches, their biological, cultural and archaeological foundations; and highlight their association with the old “dump heap” scenario. We argue that based on the biology of the Near Eastern crop plants and the available archaeological evidence, these approached and respective arguments are inadequate. Rather, we contend that the biological idiosyncrasies of the Near Eastern founder crops depict a picture of a knowledge-based and conscious domestication that emanated from the newly emerging Neolithic world view and Humans-World relationships.
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While agricultural origins have been recently revised in light of new genetic and archaeological evidence, parallel synthesis of subsequent developments in agricultural economies has lagged. This review summarizes recent advances in archaeological theory and method that contribute to an enhanced understanding of agricultural economies. Such advances address topics of persistent interest, including agricultural innovation, the introduction of new domesticates, risk and resilience, agricultural scaling, and the economic and environmental consequences of agricultural practices. Although points of complementarity and tension exist among varied contemporary discourses on agriculture, frameworks of resilience and entanglement offer particularly promising avenues for regional synthesis and worldwide comparison of agricultural economies.
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Rice is currently the staple food for over 3.5 billion people and is arguably the most important crop exploited by humans. Understanding how we came to the point where a single crop dominates the lives of almost half of the Earth’s population has major significance for our future, even more so given the climatic instability we face today, as rice is a cereal that is dependent on water to an extreme degree. In this study, the nature of early rice agriculture in South Asia is explored, looking at how this critical crop may have begun to be exploited, cultivated, and then brought under agricultural regimes during the long span between c.6500 and 1500 BC. There is now clear evidence for early Holocene cultivation of rice in the Middle Gangetic plains of northern India, but there is still considerable debate about the timing of when this cultivation began and whether it involved domestication of rice. By 3200 BC, however, rice agriculture was present outside the Ganges in the Indus Civilization. The data show accelerated domestication in the Indus environment and agricultural systems that played a part in later hybridization with the arrival of Chinese rice. Understanding how this move from its place of origin to a new environment may have become entangled in the domestication pathways of South Asia rice prior to the arrival of Chinese rice c.1500 BC are important to the overall rice story, as they play into modern concerns relating to biodiversity and different ways of growing and watering rice.
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Dogs are known to be the oldest animals domesticated by humans. Although many studies have examined wolf domestication, the geographic and temporal origin of this process is still being debated. To address this issue, our study sheds new light on the early stages of wolf domestication during the Magdalenian period (16–14 ka cal BP) in the Hegau Jura region (Southwestern Germany and Switzerland). By combining morphology, genetics, and isotopes, our multidisciplinary approach helps to evaluate alternate processes driving the early phases of domestication. The isotope analysis uncovered a restricted, low δ¹⁵N protein diet for all analyzed Gnirshöhle specimens, while morphological examinations and phylogenetic relationships did not unequivocally assign them to one or the other canid lineage. Intriguingly, the newly generated mitochondrial canid genomes span the entire genetic diversity of modern dogs and wolves. Such high mitochondrial diversity could imply that Magdalenian people tamed and reared animals originating from different wolf lineages. We discuss our results in light of three ecological hypotheses and conclude that both domestication and the existence of a specialized wolf ecomorph are highly probable. However, due to their proximity to humans and a restricted diet, we propose domestication as the most likely scenario explaining the patterns observed herein.
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Background The composition of the human microbiome varies considerably in diversity and density across communities as a function of the foods we eat and the places we live. While all foods contain microbes, humans directly shape this microbial ecology through fermentation. Fermented foods are produced from microbial reactions that depend on local environmental conditions, fermentation practices, and the manner in which foods are prepared and consumed. These interactions are of special interest to ethnobiologists because they link investigations of how people shape and know the world around them to local knowledge, food traditions, local flora, and microbial taxa. Methods In this manuscript, we report on data collected at a fermentation revivalist workshop in Tennessee. To ask how fermentation traditions are learned and influence macro and micro ecologies, we conducted interviews and participated in a four-day craft fermentation workshop, and then collected both fermented food products and stool samples from workshop participants eating those fermented foods. ResultsWe identified ten major themes comprised of 29 sub-themes drawn from 326 marked codes in the transcripts. In combination, this analysis allowed us to summarize key experiences with fermentation, particularly those related to a sense of authenticity, place, health, and the discovery of tactile work. From the 605 ASVs shared between food and fecal samples, we identified 25 candidate ASVs that are suspected to have been transmitted from fermented food samples to the gut microbiomes of the workshop participants. Our results indicate that many of the foods prepared and consumed during the workshop were rich sources of probiotic microbes. Conclusions By combining these qualitative social and quantitative microbiological data, we suggest that variation in culturally-informed fermentation practices introduces variation in bacterial flora even among very similar foods, and that these food products can influence gut microbial ecology.
Article
Neo‐Darwinism characterises biological adaptation as a one‐sided process, in which organisms adapt to their environment but not vice versa. This asymmetric relationship – here called Williams’ asymmetry – is called into question by Niche Construction Theory, which emphasises that organisms and their environments often mutually affect each other. Here we clarify that Williams’ asymmetry is specifically concerned with (quasi‐) directed modifications towards phenotypes that increase individual fitness. This directedness – which drives the adaptive fit between organism and environment – entails far more than the mere presence of cause‐effect relationships. We argue that difficulties with invoking fitness as the guiding principle of adaptive evolution are resolved with an appropriate definition of fitness and that objections against Williams’ asymmetry reflect confusions about the nature of biological adaptation. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Unlike plants that were domesticated to secure food, the domestication and breeding of ornamental plants are driven by aesthetic values. Here, we examine the major elements of the extended evolutionary synthesis (EES) theory that bridges the gap between the biology of ornamental plant domestication and the sociocultural motivations behind it. We propose that it involves specific elements of cumulative cultural evolution (CCE), plant gene-human culture coevolution (PGHCC), and niche construction (NC). Moreover, ornamental plant domestication represents an aesthetics-driven dimension of human niche construction that coevolved with socioeconomic changes and the adoption of new scientific technologies. Initially functioning as symbolic and aesthetic assets, ornamental plants became globally marketed material commodities as a result of the co-dependence of human CCE and prestige-competition motivations.
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Intensified social complexity emerged in some parts of the lowland Maya region during the Middle Preclassic period (800–300 BC). Though data for Middle Preclassic complexity remain very thin, states may have formed in the Mirador Basin and other areas that exhibit settlement hierarchy, evidence of centralized administration, and specialization. However, these developments have been obscured by a shift from a more cooperative to a more competitive system during the Late Preclassic period (300 BC–AD 200). Unilinear thought has confused this change in organization with a shift toward greater complexity. Such positions incorrectly assume that divine kingship and its accouterments are a baseline for complexity. Judging Middle Preclassic period complexity according to Classic period developments is dubious given the cooperative–competitive oscillations; the tendency in the Maya area for states to have been secondary with longstanding interactions among Chiapas, Pacific Coast, Isthmian, and the Gulf Coast areas; and internal innovations. New data are needed to characterize early complexity in the Maya lowlands on its own terms.
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ContextLandscape domestication (LD) has been an important mechanism for subsistence in traditional rural societies. In the last decade, important theoretical advances have been accomplished with valuable archaeological, historical, and ecological approaches for understanding LD processes, while integrated spatial approximations are still scanty.Objectives To assess the usefulness of species distribution modeling for addressing LD processes associated with human influence on plant community distribution, using as case study the palm-stands of Brahea dulcis in central-southern Mexico.Methods We used MaxEnt for building distribution models, including social factors as triggers of palm-stand distribution, and environmental variables as covariates. Model performance, predicted surface and variable importance were statistically evaluated. The best distribution model was chosen, and it was further assed by visual inspection and ground-truth validation to contrasts predicted versus observed palm-stand distribution.ResultsSocial factors contributed the most to the model fit, proving to be strongly associated with palm-stand presence. Visual inspection of the predicted spatial distribution resulted coherent with observed palm-stand distribution. Ground-truth proved to reach a certainty of circa 80% between predicted and observed areas with palm-stands.Conclusions Ethnic identity, distance to roads, and land tenure were the strongest explanatory variables to accurately predict the observed palm-stand spatial distribution. This revealed the high importance of social factors for palm-stand presence and support the assertion that palm-stand are the result of long-standing human actions, rather than purely ecological and physical attributes. The identification of driving social factors allowed to inquire into the underlying LD processes.
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Ecological studies in Amazonian biodiversity increasingly report concentrations of economically useful tree species. The present, grove-type forest formations are a legacy of millennia of humans’ management practices. Where trees are a major component of the environment, human-plant interactions take on specific dynamics as trees are conducive to different management practices than for annual plants. This chapter explores the relationships between anthropogenic forest creation in the Brazilian Amazon and human mobility. Paleoethnobotanical data from archaeological sites located in different regions of the Amazon point to changing human-plant relationships over the Holocene and to forest specific practices to enhance resource access and broaden the scope of potential economic activities. With annual plants, farming increases concentration of resources and food storage increases continuity of access to resources. With perennial trees, managing groves increases concentrations of resources and establishing nearby groves of different species increases continuity of access to resources. Anthropogenic forest groves should be seen as a settlement strategy rather than the outcome of more sedentary lifeways. These landscape modifications are a layered record of human innovation, production, and settlement systems, and are not, as sometimes projected, a means to survive in an inhospitable, tropical environment.
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Os capítulos aqui apresentados trazem uma síntese do conhecimento atualmente disponível sobre o papel das práticas de conhecimento dos povos indígenas no passado na construção da agrobiodiversidade e parte da biodiversidade do Brasil contemporâneo. O recorte cronológico não é rígido, mas o foco principal é o longo período de mais de 10.000 anos transcorrido desde a transição entre o Pleistoceno e o Holoceno, ao redor de 11.000 anos atrás, até o início da colonização europeia, há cerca de 500 anos. A maior parte das discussões vem de estudos de caso da Amazônia, região onde pesquisas sobre o tema têm sido mais avançadas nos últimos anos. Os capítulos foram escritos por arqueólogos, ecólogos e antropólogos, o que demonstra o caráter transdisciplinar dessas pesquisas. Coordenador: Eduardo G. Neves.
Article
Much of paleodemography, an interdisciplinary field with strong ties to archaeology, among other disciplines, is oriented toward clarifying the life experiences of past people and why they changed over time. We focus on how human skeletons contribute to our understanding of preindustrial demographic regimes, including when changes took place that led to the world as we know it today. Problems with existing paleodemographic practices are highlighted, as are promising directions for future work. The latter requires both better age estimates and innovative methods to handle data appropriately. Age-at-death estimates for adult skeletons are a particular problem, especially for adults over 50 years that undoubtedly are mistakenly underrepresented in published studies of archaeological skeletons. Better age estimates for the entirety of the lifespan are essential to generate realistic distributions of age at death. There are currently encouraging signs that after about a half-century of intensive, and sometimes contentious, research, paleodemography is poised to contribute much to understandings of evolutionary processes, the structure of past populations, and human-disease interaction, among other topics.
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Far from being an under-populated, wild or pristine region, the Amazon rainforest appears on the contrary to be a maker of global plants. What are the mechanisms of the globalization of Amazonian plants? We will see through this article that the globalization of Amazonian plants is based on a set of socio-ecological processes through time and space that we call layers of mondialisation which, when combined, shape the globalization of crops. These layers are structured around global commodity chains that are fed by an extractivist-capitalist logic. The comprehension of the making of global plants appears to be a necessary condition for implementing a fair repartition of the richness issued from biodiversity, from which Amazonian people and the region did not really benefit.
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In this chapter, we review archaeobotanical evidence for indigenous people’s uses of food plants during the Holocene in what is now Brazil. We present the diversity of plant species used, which includes native crops, such as manioc; exotic crops, such as maize; as well as fruit trees, nut trees, and palms. We discuss their association with varied human foodways, strategies of plant management, and histories of domestication and dispersal of food plants. To provide an overview of plant consumption during the Holocene, we present data from different archaeological contexts, including rock shelters, open-air sites, pit houses, and coastal and fluvial shell mounds, located throughout the Brazilian biomes.
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The determinants of food choices made by hunter-gatherers have long been a topic of speculation and controversy. In this paper, we analyze the foraging behavior of the Aché of eastern Paraguay and conclude that it is consistent with predictions derived from optimal foraging models. We infer that these very general models will continue to prove useful in explaining variation in hunter-gatherer subsistence patterns throughout time and space. [Aché, hunter-gatherers, optimal foraging theory, South America, tropical forest]
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Niche construction theory (NCT) is distinctive for being explicit in recognizing environmental modification by organisms—niche construction—and its legacy—ecological inheritance—to be evolutionary processes in their own right. Humans are widely regarded as champion niche constructors, largely as a direct result of our capacity for the cultural transmission of knowledge and its expression in human behavior, engineering, and technology. This raises the question of how human ecological inheritance relates to human cultural inheritance. If NCT is to provide a conceptual framework for the human sciences, then it is important that the relationship between these two legacies is clear. We suggest that cultural processes and cultural inheritance can be viewed as the primary means by which humans engage in the universal process of niche construction.
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Niche construction is the process whereby organisms, through their activities and choices, modify their own and each other’s niches. By transforming natural-selection pressures, niche construction generates feedback in evolution at various different levels. Niche-constructing species play important ecological roles by creating habitats and resources used by other species and thereby affecting the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems—a process often referred to as “ecosystem engineering.” An important emphasis of niche construction theory (NCT) is that acquired characters play an evolutionary role through transforming selective environments. This is particularly relevant to human evolution, where our species has engaged in extensive environmental modification through cultural practices. Humans can construct developmental environments that feed back to affect how individuals learn and develop and the diseases to which they are exposed. Here we provide an introduction to NCT and illustrate some of its more important implications for the human sciences.
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This paper explores a central place foraging model with data on Meriam intertidal shellfish gathering strategies, field processing practices, patterns of resource transport, and consequences of these factors for introducing variability in shell assemblage composition among these Islanders of the eastern Torres Strait, Australia. As a result of differential field processing and shell material transport, we show that some species are likely to be consistently over-represented in shell assemblages while others are likely to be under-represented relative to their actual dietary importance. Explanations for this behavior are tested with the predictions of a central place forging model derived from behavioral ecology. We find consistent relationships between the anticipated and observed patterns of transport for five species. These results have implications for current thought about the relationship between faunal assemblages and transport behavior in a wide array of contexts, interpretations of site function and settlement patterns, and arguments about role of shellfish in prehistoric diets.
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The distribution of the diversity and abundance of life on Earth is thought to be shaped by the patterns of plant growth (net primary production, NPP) in the oceans and on land. The well-known latitudinal gradient of species diversity reaches its maximum in tropical rain forests, which are considered to be the most productive ecosystems on the planet. However, this high tropical productivity on land is the opposite of the well-documented distribution of marine productivity, which is greatest in the high-latitude oceans around the poles. This paradox can be resolved by a reevaluation of the terrestrial productivity gradient. Compilations of direct measurements of forest NPP show that annual NPP in tropical forests is no different than annual NPP in temperate forests, contrary to recent syntheses and to the output of global vegetation models. Other properties of forest ecosystems, such as basal area of trees, wood density, and the ratio of wood to leaf production, as well as animal properties such as body size, population density, and reproductive rates, support the conclusion that ecologically relevant terrestrial productivity is actually highest in the temperate latitudes, reaching a maximum between 308 and 508 before declining toward the poles. This ‘‘reversal’’ of the latitudinal productivity gradient, if substantiated by a systematic global sampling effort, will necessitate a major reevaluation of ecological and evolutionary theory, as well as conservation strategies and international development policies.
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Recent applications of models of optimal foraging behavior to human foraging economies are summarized and evaluated. These models predict patterns of prey choice, habitat use, time allocation, settlement pattern, and foraging group size that will maximize some objective currency (such as the net rate of energy capture while foraging) under the constraints of resource characteristics and forager capabilities pertaining to a particular situation. Issues raised in anthropological critiques of optimal foraging theory are also discussed, including (1) the models' degree of realism, (2) the validity of neo-Darwinian assumptions and simple energetic-efficiency currencies, (3) the need to incorporate the effects of risk and uncertainty, and (4) the relation of individual decision-making to processes occuring at larger spatial and temporal scales. Despite the validity of certain criticisms, optimal foraging theory appears to offer a useful addition to more orthodox analyses of hunter-gatherer subsistence patterns ...
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The vibrancy of the field of evolution and human behaviour belies the fact that the majority of social scientists are deeply unhappy with evolutionary accounts of human behaviour. In part, this reflects a problem within evolutionary biology: neo-Darwinism fails to recognize a fundamental cause of evolutionary change, "niche construction", by which organisms modify environmental states, and consequently selection pressures, thereby acting as co-directors of their own, and other species', evolution. Social scientists are rarely content to describe human behaviour as fully determined by naturally-selected genes, and view humans as active, constructive agents rather than passive recipients of selection. To be aligned with this viewpoint, evolutionary biology must explicitly recognize the changes that humans bring about in their world to be drivers of evolutionary events. Learning and culture have played important evolutionary roles, by shaping the pattern and strength of selection acting on our ancestors. The incorporation of niche construction as both a cause and a product of evolution enhances the explanatory power of evolutionary theory and provides what ultimately will prove to be a more satisfactory evolutionary framework for understanding human behaviour. Here we spell out some of the important implications of the niche-construction perspective for the field of evolution and human behaviour.
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The question of human territoriality has frequently been debated, but most previous discussions have not sufficiently emphasized ecological variables as major factors determining territoriality. We argue that current theories in sociobiology, especially the model focusing on economic defendability of resources, need to be considered in analyzing human territoriality. According to this model, territoriality is expected to occur when critical resources are sufficiently abundant and predictable in space and time, so that costs of exclusive use and defense of an area are outweighed by the benefits gained from resource control. This model is developed, and then applied to several locally adapted human populations (Northern Ojibwa, Basin-Plateau Indians, and Karimojong). Variations in territorial responses for these groups seem to accord with the predictions of the economic defendability model. [territoriality, resource defense, human ecology, sociobiology, spatial organization]
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Niche construction theory (NCT) is a relatively new development within evolutionary biology, but one that has important implications for many adjacent fields of research, including the human sciences. Here, we present a broad overview of NCT and discuss its application to archaeology. We begin by laying out the basic arguments of NCT, including a historical overview, focusing on how it affects understanding of human behavior and evolution. We then consider how NCT can be used to inform empirical research and how it might profitably be applied in archaeology, using as a case study the origins of agriculture. We suggest that the unrivaled potency of human niche construction, compared with that of other species, means that archaeologists need not be mere consumers of biological insights but can become important contributors to evolutionary theory. KeywordsAgriculture-Archaeology-Human evolution-Niche construction-Plant domestication
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The European explorers who first visited the Northwest Coast of North America assumed that the entire region was virtually untouched wilderness whose occupants used the land only minimally, hunting and gathering shoots, roots, and berries that were peripheral to a diet and culture focused on salmon. Colonizers who followed the explorers used these claims to justify the displacement of Native groups from their lands. Scholars now understand, however, that Northwest Coast peoples were actively cultivating plants well before their first contact with Europeans. This book is the first comprehensive overview of how Northwest Coast Native Americans managed the landscape and cared for the plant communities on which they depended. Bringing together some of the world's most prominent specialists on Northwest Coast cultures, Keeping It Living tells the story of traditional plant cultivation practices found from the Oregon coast to Southeast Alaska. It explores tobacco gardens among the Haida and Tlingit, managed camas plots among the Coast Salish of Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia, estuarine root gardens along the central coast of British Columbia, wapato maintenance on the Columbia and Fraser Rivers, and tended berry plots up and down the entire coast. With contributions from ethnobotanists, archaeologists, anthropologists, geographers, ecologists, and Native American scholars and elders, Keeping It Living documents practices, many unknown to European peoples, that involve manipulating plants as well as their environments in ways that enhanced culturally preferred plants and plant communities. It describes how indigenous peoples of this region used and cared for over 300 different species of plants, from the lofty red cedar to diminutive plants of backwater bogs.
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During the past 20 years, evolutionary biologists have broadened the study of Darwinian processes by drawing on elements from the ecological and behavioral sciences, and asking questions relating to why as well as to how. As a result, flexible decision making by animals, local ecological circumstances, and rapid, phenotypic-level adjustments are viewed as fundamental to evolutionary change. The transition from foraging to farming is, at its heart, an evolutionary transformation, but to avoid a serious paradigm lag with modern biological principles and ensure that our theories can accommodate complex and learned human actions, archaeologists must incorporate these now-standard approaches to adaptive change in biology. This paper uses behavioral ecology, specifically optimal foraging theory (OFT), to examine the origins of plant cultivation and domestication in the American tropics. It reviews the present empirical evidence for early food production in the Neotropical forest, and evaluates four main questions relating to the why and how of agricultural origins, as seen from the perspective of human behavioral ecology (HBE). Using two important genera of American plant domesticates, Cucurbita and Lagenaria, the paper also compares and contrasts the major tenets of HBE with those of other evolutionary programs in archaeology, such as co-evolution, and examines how well the assumptions and predictions of each approach are met by archaeological data. Lastly, it is argued that HBE can be used to explore nomothetic explanations for food production origins because it, alone among the existing generalizing theories, can be applied across cultural and environmental boundaries.
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Agriculture is the lever with which humans transformed the earth over the last 10,000 years and created new forms of plant and animal species that have forever altered the face of the planet. In the last decade, significant technological and methodological advances in both molecular biology and archaeology have revolutionized the study of plant and animal domestication and are reshaping our understanding of the transition from foraging to farming, one of the major turning points in human history. This groundbreaking volume for the first time brings together leading archaeologists and biologists working on the domestication of both plants and animals to consider a wide variety of archaeological and genetic approaches to tracing the origin and dispersal of domesticates. It provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the art in this quickly changing field as well as reviews of recent findings on specific crop and livestock species in the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa. Offering a unique global perspective, it explores common challenges and potential avenues for future progress in documenting domestication.
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Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Natural Resource Management examines how traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is taught and practiced today among Native communities. Of special interest is the complex relationship between indigenous ecological practices and other ways of interacting with the environment, particularly regional and national programs of natural resource management. Focusing primarily on the northwest coast of North America, scholars look at the challenges and opportunities confronting the local practice of indigenous ecological knowledge in a range of communities, including the Tsimshian, the Nisga'a, the Tlingit, the Gitksan, the Kwagult, the Sto:lo, and the northern Dene in the Yukon. The experts consider how traditional knowledge is taught and learned and address the cultural importance of different subsistence practices using natural elements such as seaweed (Gitga'a), pine mushrooms (Tsimshian), and salmon (Tlingit). Several contributors discuss the extent to which national and regional programs of resource management need to include models of TEK in their planning and execution. This volume highlights the different ways of seeing and engaging with the natural world and underscores the need to acknowledge and honor the ways that indigenous peoples have done so for generations. © 2006 by the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska. All rights reserved.
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This innovative volume is the first collective effort by archaeologists and ethnographers to use concepts and models from human behavioral ecology to explore one of the most consequential transitions in human history: the origins of agriculture. Carefully balancing theory and detailed empirical study, and drawing from a series of ethnographic and archaeological case studies from eleven locations-including North and South America, Mesoamerica, Europe, the Near East, Africa, and the Pacific-the contributors to this volume examine the transition from hunting and gathering to farming and herding using a broad set of analytical models and concepts. These include diet breadth, central place foraging, ideal free distribution, discounting, risk sensitivity, population ecology, and costly signaling. An introductory chapter both charts the basics of the theory and notes areas of rapid advance in our understanding of how human subsistence systems evolve. Two concluding chapters by senior archaeologists reflect on the potential for human behavioral ecology to explain domestication and the transition from foraging to farming.
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The idea that organisms are exquisitely designed to fit their environment is a legacy from a static and teleological world view that has a lengthy history in western thought (see Pirlot & Bernier 1973, Bernier & Pirlot 1977, Lewontin 1980, Krimbas 1984). It is a tradition that includes Aristotle, the Stoics, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Natural Theologians. For these writers optimal design was evidence for the existence of various forms of an intelligent creator. This argument for the existence of a creator has become known as the “argument from design.” In its modern guise, the idea of design can be found in the Darwinian concept of adaptation. Darwin rejected God as an explanation of an organism-environment fit but accepted that such a fit existed (see Ospovat 1981).1 Drawing implicitly from Hobbes and Adam Smith, and explicitly from the Natural Theologians and Malthus, he proposed natural selection as a mechanism to explain this fit. In this manner, mechanism was wedded to teleology and Aristotle’s final causes were transformed into today’s “ultimate” or evolutionary causes.2 Mayr (1982, p. 521) asserts that this legitimization of “why questions” was the most important departure in Darwin’s methodology.
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In the second article of this series, brief mention was made of a cave at Kastritsa, near Lake Ioannina, whose talus had yielded an industry reminiscent of the last phase at the shelter of Asprochaliko. The evidence for an increase in the size of Lake Ioannina during the Last Glaciation was also outlined. The purpose of this paper is to consider the concomitant environmental changes in relation to the evidence for human occupation. Lake Ioannina lies at 469 metres above sea-level. To the north-east stands the Mitsikeli ridge, with a maximum elevation of 1,810 metres and separated from the Pindus range by the gorge of the upper Arakhthos (fig. 1). To the south-west lies the Tomarokhoria plateau, which in places rises to over 1,900 metres. The basin, a typical polje , is cradled by limestones which range in age from the Upper Triassic to the Upper Eocene. The Flysch of the Pindus borders it on the south-east. The lake lies along the axis of the Perama syncline, which runs north-west-south-east parallel to the Mitsikeli anticline and the Stavraki anticline; faulting is common. The basin would seem to owe its existence primarily to structural factors, although solution doubtless contributed to its present form.
Article
This study is concerned with the exploitation of resources by human groups in the Carmel area over a period of about 50,000 years. To this end an attempt is made to evaluate the changing economic potential of the ‘catchments’ of individual sites, for this enables us to make a comparative analysis of hunting-gathering and agricultural economies. Although the study of prehistoric sites is now usually complemented by some treatment of their setting, the situation in their immediate vicinity—the principal concern of the inhabitants—tends to be neglected or at any rate overshadowed by generalized statements regarding the physiographic, vegetational, climatic or kindred zones of which they form a (not necessarily typical) part. The difficulty that is encountered by attempts to harmonize the findings of the various specialists who nowadays contribute to archaeological studies may, in fact, be due to the limitations of a zonal approach, for the populations or phenomena with which each of them is concerned do not necessarily refer to a single ‘catchment’ area and may have little connection with the picture of the exploited territory that is imprinted on the site record.
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The New World tropical forest is now considered to be an early and independent cradle of agriculture. As in other areas of the world, our understanding of this issue has been significantly advanced by a steady stream of archaeobotanical, paleoecological, and molecular/genetic data. Also importantly, a renewed focus on formulating testable theories and explanations for the transition from foraging to food production has led to applications from subdisciplines of ecology, economy, and evolution not previously applied to agricultural origins. Most recently, the integration of formerly separated disciplines, such as developmental and evolutionary biology, is causing reconsiderations of how novel phenotypes, including domesticated species, originate and the influence of artificial selection on the domestication process. It is becoming clear that the more interesting question may be the origins of plant cultivation rather than the origins of agriculture. This paper reviews this body of evidence and assesses current views about how and why domestication and plant food production arose.
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This introduction to the symposium and to this issue of Current Anthropology attempts to provide some sense of the topic, the meeting itself, the participants, and some of the initial results. Our symposium brought together a diverse international group of archaeological scientists to consider a topic of common interest and substantial anthropological import—the origins of agriculture. The group included individuals working in most of the places where farming began. This issue is organized by chronology and geography. Our goal was to consider the most recent data and ideas from these different regions in order to examine larger questions of congruity and disparity among the groups of first farmers. There is much new information from a number of important areas, particularly Asia. Following a review of the history of investigation of agricultural origins, this introduction summarizes the results of the conference. There are at least 10 different places around the world where agriculture was independently developed, and the antiquity of domestication is being pushed back in time with new discoveries. Our symposium has emphasized the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to such large questions in order to assemble as much information as possible. We anticipate that the results and consequences of this symposium will have long-term ripple effects in anthropology and archaeology.
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The timing and sequence of the independent domestication of indigenous eastern North American seed plants (Cucurbita pepo, Helianthus annuus, Iva annua, Chenopodium berlandieri) and the subsequent development of a crop complex are discussed within a broader environmental and cultural context. The settlements that have yielded the earliest record of eastern domesticates are all small and situated in resource-rich lower-order river valley corridors within oak-savannah and oak-hickory forest regions. Well-preserved floral and faunal assemblages indicate continued substantial reliance on a wide range of wild species with no evidence of resource depletion. Similarly, there is no indication of landscape packing in terms of high site density in these resource-rich river valleys, calling into question developmental models of domestication and agricultural origins that rely on population pressure or resource imbalance as causal factors.
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The recent emergence of movement ecology and niche construction paradigms in evolutionary ecology bring into clear focus the conceptual shortcomings of older foraging models currently employed in Human Behavioral Ecology. Along with increasing archaeological evidence, these new perspectives call into question the basic utility of HBE as a framework of understanding for complex human evolutionary processes, including the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.
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We use a central place foraging model of field resource processing to explore the archaeological implications of experimental and ethnographical observations pertaining to the collection and processing of black oak (Quercus kelloggii) and big mussel (Mytilus californianus). These data suggest oak field processing will generally be minimal and confined mainly to drying and that big mussel may be transported unprocessed or completely processed depending on round-trip travel time and mussel colony productivity. Archaeological data further demonstrate that the field processing of mussels is frequently at odds with central place model predictions, suggesting optimization of quantities other than calories and time.
Book
The seemingly innocent observation that the activities of organisms bring about changes in environments is so obvious that it seems an unlikely focus for a new line of thinking about evolution. Yet niche construction--as this process of organism-driven environmental modification is known--has hidden complexities. By transforming biotic and abiotic sources of natural selection in external environments, niche construction generates feedback in evolution on a scale hitherto underestimated--and in a manner that transforms the evolutionary dynamic. It also plays a critical role in ecology, supporting ecosystem engineering and influencing the flow of energy and nutrients through ecosystems. Despite this, niche construction has been given short shrift in theoretical biology, in part because it cannot be fully understood within the framework of standard evolutionary theory. Wedding evolution and ecology, this book extends evolutionary theory by formally including niche construction and ecological inheritance as additional evolutionary processes. The authors support their historic move with empirical data, theoretical population genetics, and conceptual models. They also describe new research methods capable of testing the theory. They demonstrate how their theory can resolve long-standing problems in ecology, particularly by advancing the sorely needed synthesis of ecology and evolution, and how it offers an evolutionary basis for the human sciences. Already hailed as a pioneering work by some of the world's most influential biologists, this is a rare, potentially field-changing contribution to the biological sciences.
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The paper describes livestock herding in Shimshal, an indigenous mountain community in Pakistan, with particular attention to the considerations that inform herding decisions. Ethnographic fieldwork in Shimshal reveals two main categories of consideration: instrumental and symbolic. Habermas' theory of communicative action provides a basis for reformulating these categories into a set of conceptually integrated ideal types of resources and for arguing that instrumental and symbolic resources provide motivations toward consumption and conservation, respectively. Two examples of outside interventions to Shimshal's pastoral ecology reveal the limitations of conceptualizing indigenous resource use in purely instrumental terms. The paper concludes with a call to conceptualize indigenous community sustainability in instrumental and symbolic terms. Cet article traite des troupeaux de bétail à Shimshal, une communauté indigène montagnarde au Pakistan en insistant sur des considérations qui influencent les décisions au sujet des troupeaux. La recherche éthnographique sur le terrain de Shimshal nous révèle deux grandes catégories: instrumental et symbolique. La théorie de l'action communicative d'Habermas fournit une base pour la reformulation des catégories en regroupant d'une façon conceptuelle des types de ressources idéales et permet de constater que les ressources instrumentales et symboli-ques motivent la consommation et la conservation respectivement. Deux exemples d'intervention externe à l'écologie pastorale de Shimshal révèlent les limites de la conceptualisation des ressources indigènes dans les ter-mes instrumentaux. Cet article conclut en suggérant le besoin d'une communauté indigène en termes instrumentaux et symboliques.
Article
The limitations of the hypothetico-deductive (H-D) method of inductive confirmation are described, and an alternate method, the hypothetico-analog (H-A) method is described in detail. The H-A method can be characterized as a modified and supplemented form of the simple H-D method, and is proposed as being more appropriate for archaeological inference. Aspects of the H-A method that are given particular attention include the establishment of boundary conditions for reference classes, plausibility considerations, multiple working hypotheses, bridging arguments, and criteria for selecting alternative hypotheses. [scientific method, archaeological inference, hypothetico-analog method, inductive confirmation]
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Many animal species attempt to enhance their environments through niche construction or environmental engineering. Such efforts at environmental modification are proposed to play an important and underappreciated role in shaping biotic communities and evolutionary processes.1, 2Homo sapiens is acknowledged as the ultimate niche constructing species in terms of our rich repertoire of ecosystem engineering skills and the magnitude of their impact. We have been trying to make the world a better place—for ourselves—for tens of thousands of years. I argue here that it is within this general context of niche-construction behavior that our distant ancestors initially domesticated plants and animals and, in the process, first gained the ability to significantly alter the world's environments. The general concept of niche construction also provides the logical link between current efforts to understand domestication being conducted at two disconnected scales of analysis. At the level of individual plant and animal species, on one hand, there recently have been significant advances in our knowledge of the what, when, and where of domestication of an ever-increasing number of species worldwide.3 At the same time, large-scale regional or universal developmental models of the transition to food production continue to be formulated. These incorporate a variety of “macro-evolutionary” causal variables that may account for why human societies first domesticated plants and animals.4, 5 This essay employs the general concept of niche construction to address the intervening question of how, and to connect these two scales of analysis by identifying the general behavioral context within which human societies responded to “macroevolutionary” causal variables and forged new human plant or animal relationships of domestication.
Article
Straight growth forms of wild shrubs and trees unaffected by insects, diseases, or accumulated dead material have been valued cross-culturally for millennia for use in basketry, yet these growth forms do not occur readily in nature without disturbance. California data are presented that demonstrate how fire and pruning were ancienthorticultural techniques that were utilized by Native Americans in various temperate ecosystems to shape ecosystem structure, reduce the occurrence of insects and diseases, and activate specific developmental stages in shrubs and trees for twined and coiled basketry.Itis suggested that the magnitude and extent of burning applied to wildlands for basketry and many other cultural purposes in most indigenous cultures in California have been drastically underestimated in the published literature. A methodological approach is outlined for unraveling past and present-day wildland management for basketry materials in various temperate regions. Working hypotheses to explain the ecological rationale for indigenous management at both the organismic and ecosystemic level are proposed.
Article
Aspects of the culture, resource exploitation and beliefs of the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en peoples of northwestern British Columbia are examined to explore the relationship of their cultural practices, land tenure, and beliefs to resource conservation. Traditional Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en practices and beliefs contain a number of elements which acted to promote conservation, including territoriality, prescribed burning, and proscription of waste, and other elements which are more difficult to reconcile with a biological model of conservation. The concept of humans as part of the natural world, and the requirement for respect for all natural entities are the fundamental to mediating human interactions with other species in the Gitksan and Wet'suwet'en cultures.
Article
Foraging models can predict the optimal diet selection for an organism which has the goal of maximizing its net acquisition rate for energy while hunting and gathering. Here a simulation methodology is used to determine the optimal diet selection under the assumption that the forager's goal is to minimize the risk of an energy shortfall. The results show that the rate-maximizing and risk-minimizing diets are similar; that sharing is more effective than changes in diet in reducing risk; and that the risk-reduction which can be obtained from sharing requires quite small numbers of participants. Food sharing may be an ancient and pervasive feature of hominid foraging adaptations.