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Neolithic transition to postglacial world. Rise of civilization after 8000BCE. Glacial period. Ice covers most of Europe, Asia, North America. 15,000 -11,000 years ago The sea is at least 300 feet lower. North America and Asia joined by wide land bridge.

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Neolithic transition to postglacial world

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neolithic transition to postglacial world

Neolithic transition to postglacial world

Rise of civilization after 8000BCE

glacial period
Glacial period
  • Ice covers most of Europe, Asia, North America. 15,000 -11,000 years ago
  • The sea is at least 300 feet lower.
  • North America and Asia joined by wide land bridge.
  • Animal and human populations are compressed into less open land.
retreat of the ice
Retreat of the Ice
  • 11,000 years ago large game animals in Europe and Asian began to decline
  • Many species go extinct
  • Human populations gradually change diet toward more plant species, smaller game, and a new subsistence pattern.
foraging societies
Foraging Societies
  • Human subsistence strategy involved hunting and gathering. Probably dominated by gathering. Hunting is energy intensive and yields less calories than foraging supplies.
  • Human diet became diverse.
  • Examples by general analogy to modern foraging societies
modern foragers and limited horticulturalists
Modern foragers and limited horticulturalists
  • Dobe Jo’hansi [San] (Kalahari, Botswana)
  • Netsilik, Inuit (Arctic Canada, Greenland)
  • Yanomamo (Venezuela, Brazil)
  • Mbuti (Congo)

Dobe Ju’hoansi

See pages 68-75



Foragers and horticulturalists

models for change

Hunters—herders—oasis gathering—accidental seed dispersal—concentrated populations—agriculture—settled villages—cities and states


Hunters—seed dispersal in camps—limited agriculture—domestication of herds—settlements—limited farming—water resource management—agriculture—cities and states

Models for change
archaeological evidence
Archaeological evidence
  • As postglacial period advanced, sea levels rose again societies emerge taking advantage of plentiful and diverse resource base.
  • Evidence of cultures adapting to particular resources.
  • Evidence of specialized technological and cultural adaptations.
adaptive strategies include
Adaptive strategies include
  • Specialized technologies
    • Tools for different purposes
  • Shaministic practices
    • Masks, bundles, religious observances of sky
  • Art
    • Painting, jewelry/personal adornment , sculpture
  • Social stratification
some archaeological sites of the early postglacial period outside near east
Some archaeological sites of the early postglacial period outside Near East
  • Vedbeck [Denmark] ~5000 BC
  • Star Carr [England] ~8800 BC
  • Gatecliff [Nevada, USA] ~7000 BC until 0
vedbeck late mesolithic
Vedbeck (late mesolithic)
  • Retreating ice sheets in northern Europe allowed people to exploit a wider range of resources.
  • Cemetery dating to about 5000 BC (radiocarbon).
  • Settlement near marine resources.
  • Diet includes shellfish, fish, deer, rodents
trade evidence
Trade evidence
  • Mediterranean shells found in burial sites excavated in Germany.
  • Other ‘exotics” also recovered: obsidian and other non native minerals.
starr carr
Starr Carr
  • Late Mesolithic (radiocarbon dated to 7538 +/- 350 BC (more than 9000 years ago)
  • Excavated (1949-51) by Grahame Clark
  • First time experts in environmental archaeology dug an early site.
  • Wet bog site with fantastic preservation of organics.
  • Dendrochronology suggests older dates.
starr carr continued
Starr Carr continued
  • Diverse diet of roe deer, moose, red deer, fish, boar, seeds.
  • Large timber houses built over lake edges
  • Wooden plank walkways.
  • Seasonal use March-July (evidence from deer, pollen,
  • Axes, flint knives, microliths, other tools for leatherworking
gatecliff shelter
Gatecliff Shelter
  • Probably a seasonal camp
  • Cave site (rock shelter or large overhang)
  • Strong evidence of humans at site date to 5500 years ago.
  • Dry conditions preserved organic artifacts coprolites, and ecofacts.
  • Diet of bighorn sheep, pinon nuts,seeds.
modern foragers
Modern Foragers
  • Case study in current world
  • Dobe / San / !Kung : Kalharai desert region Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
resource issues
Resource Issues
  • Modern political boundaries constrict the resource base to marginal lands
  • Specialized survival strategies.
    • Band reciprocity
      • “soft” territories
  • Trade
  • Diet
  • Egalitarian social structure
Assumptions challenged: recent research reveals that forgers work less, not more, than farmers to gain food supplies and often have a more balanced diet. Lots of leisure time for socializing as a s result.
  • Hunting provides 20-30% of food.
settlement patterns
Settlement patterns
  • Resource based
  • Uneven distribution across landscape
  • Restricted movement
  • State intervention limited, but pressure increasing to force Dobe to abandon way of life and move to government villages.

Many Dobe today take part-time jobs with neighboring herding tribes and ranchers in order to participate in a cash-based economy.


Innovative means of helping Dobe maintain cultural identity on traditional lands…as game trackers.

Expert trackers create records of animal movements and habits.

questions to ponder
Questions to ponder
  • Can the Dobe maintain their cultural identity if they change their subsistence strategy (shift from hunters to cattle herders for instance)?
  • What will necessary for the Dobe to survive to the end of this century?
necessary conditions
Necessary conditions
  • Cultivation begins in places where at least four conditions are met:
  • Water
  • Available cultigens (plants which can be domesticated)
  • Mild climate
  • Critical population threshold
origins of agriculture
Origins of Agriculture
  • Early domestication of plants appears to have been independently invented in several places globally.
  • Was it an accident or due to thoughtful observation?
the skeleton is a treasure trove of environmental information
The skeleton is a treasure trove of environmental information
  • Bone chemistry
  • Possible to reconstruct diet, nutrition, episodes of illness, and general health using bone and teeth.
  • Evidence suggests greater use of terrestrial animals in diet after 4000 BC than was common in earlier millennia.