Transition to Farming More Likely in a Land of Plenty

Abstract : This chapter is about the theories explaining the transition from foraging to farming. It aims to establish which links exist between the traditional theories – based on push/pull models – and the micro-founded approaches developed since the 1980s. More precisely, it asks how the latter may contribute, as the former did, to defining a macro-narrative of the transition to farming. Methodology/approach While they were providing a global narrative of the Neolithic revolution, the push and pull models have been progressively dismissed. Recent research is diverse, but it is all based upon human behaviour or micro-founded. We critically examine three of these approaches which focus either on foraging behaviour, or on the initial domestication of plants and animals, or on the evolution of social institutions related to ownership. Findings We demonstrate that these recent micro-founded approaches only provide a partial vision of the transition to farming. Despite this limit, they conciliate push and pull explanations in a single framework. Moreover, they confirm a conclusion held by tenants of pull models: the transition to farming is more likely to have occurred in a resource-rich environment such as the one associated with complex hunter-gatherers. Some archaeological evidence from the Levant is provided to support our claim. Value This research chapter provides a useful overview of the differing approaches to the behavioural, environmental and economic factors that led to the shift to farming from foraging. Its value lies in the way it presents and evaluates differing positions derived from differing scales of analysis and types of evidence.
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Serge Svizzero. Transition to Farming More Likely in a Land of Plenty. Donald C. Wood. Anthropological Considerations of Production, Exchange, Vending and Tourism, 37, Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.61-84, 2017, Research in Economic Anthropology, 978-1-78743-195-9. ⟨hal-02145479⟩

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