The introduction of plant and animal agriculture represents one of the most important milestones in human evolution. It contributed to the development of cities, alphabets, new technologies, and ultimately to civilizations, but it has also presented a threat to both human health and the environment. Bringing together research from a range of fields including anthropology, archaeology, ecology, economics, entomology, ethnobiology, genetics and geography, this book addresses key questions relating to agriculture. Why did agriculture develop and where did it originate? What are the patterns of domestication for plants and animals? How did agroecosystems originate and spread from their locations of origin? Exploring the cultural aspects of the development of agricultural ecosystems, the book also highlights how these topics can be applied to our understanding of contemporary agriculture, its long-term sustainability, the co-existence of agriculture and the environment, and the development of new crops and varieties.
Hunter-gatherer research has played a historically central role in the development of anthropological and evolutionary theory. Today, research in this traditional and enduringly vital field blurs lines of distinction between archaeology and ethnology, and seeks instead to develop perspectives and theories broadly applicable to anthropology and its many sub disciplines. In the groundbreaking first edition of Hunter-Gatherers: Archaeological and Evolutionary Theory (1991), Robert Bettinger presented an integrative perspective on hunter-gatherer research and advanced a theoretical approach compatible with both traditional anthropological and contemporary evolutionary theories. Hunter-Gatherers remains a well-respected and much-cited text, now over 20 years since initial publication. Yet, as in other vibrant fields of study, the last two decades have seen important empirical and theoretical advances. In this second edition of Hunter-Gatherers, co-authors Robert Bettinger, Raven Garvey, and Shannon Tushingham offer a revised and expanded version of the classic text, which includes a succinct and provocative critical synthesis of hunter-gatherer and evolutionary theory, from the Enlightenment to the present. New and expanded sections relate and react to recent developments--some of them the authors' own--particularly in the realms of optimal foraging and cultural transmission theories. An exceptionally informative and ambitious volume on cultural evolutionary theory, Hunter-Gatherers, second edition, is an essential addition to the libraries of anthropologists, archaeologists, and human ecologists alike.
Orderly Anarchy delivers a provocative and innovative reexamination of sociopolitical evolution among Native American groups in California, a region known for its wealth of prehistoric languages, populations, and cultural adaptations. Scholars have tended to emphasize the development of social complexity and inequality to explain this diversity. Robert L. Bettinger argues instead that "orderly anarchy," the emergence of small, autonomous groups, provided a crucial strategy in social organization. Drawing on ethnographic and archaeological data and evolutionary, economic, and anthropological theory, he shows that these small groups devised diverse solutions to environmental, technological, and social obstacles to the intensified use of resources. This book revises our understanding of how California became the most densely populated landscape in aboriginal North America.
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