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1 2 Bit of a recap: Human populations first arrived in the “New World” from NE Asia either overland across the Bering Land Bridge/Beringia and/or by boat along the west coast. It is not certain when they arrived but by 15,000 B.C. there were people living in all parts of the Americas. 3 These earliest inhabitants were hunters and gatherers, taking from nature what they needed for food and other things, like tools and clothing. This was a highly successful way of life that lasted for 1000’s of years and is still practiced today in some parts of Latin America. 4 In other places though, including most of Latin America, people eventually began to abandon hunting and gathering, developing new species of crops and animals that they came to rely on instead. This was the origin of “agriculture” in the New World. 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 One problem with this scenario is, of course, the fact that the shift to agriculture (and big ears of corn) as looked at last week, took thousands of years and so, as a response to a “crisis”, it seems rather “inefficient”. On the other hand, if the need for more food wasn’t so much an immediate “crisis” as just a “growing need” that slowly increased every couple of generations or so, then the gradual implementation of ways to meet that need (increasing the return on natural stands of grasses, for example, by tending them and clearing land where more could grow  to experimenting with increasing the yield of individual plants by selecting for larger ears of corn, for example  and then intentionally planting and tending those  and so on) seems a reasonable hypothesis. Another thing that increasing populations would have done is reduced the opportunity of individual groups to expand their territories for hunting and gathering natural resources, given that other groups would have been trying to do the same. And as individual groups became more limited to a specific area that was “theirs” to exploit, this too would have encouraged efforts to, in a sense, “expand” their locally available resource base, again through artificially enhancing it – clearing land to cultivate more of certain high yield plants (like native grasses)  and then selecting and creating more productive strains of those plants  and so on. 20 The truth is – we don’t really know for sure why people started taking up agriculture – developing and growing their own food – any more than we’re really sure how they did it (vis a vis the physical process of manipulation and alteration of wild plants, like teocinte, to eventually arrive at “corn”) – and the specific processes and reasons for domestication and agriculture might well have varied (and, in fact, probably did vary) vary from world region to world region. What we can see is what they did – and where they did it – and from this information, propose some possible reasons perhaps for why such a major shift in subsistence and associated lifeway patterns from hunting and gathering took place. _______________________________ Left: maize farming in Chiapas, Mexico; Top right: potato farming in Peru; Bottom left: domesticated llama herd in Bolivia. 21 Going back to the Archaic period and the many different kinds of environments – and associated lifeways (ways of life) that people adopted in different regions, depending on environment and the kinds of resources in those environments. 22 So where would you think that people first start experimenting with increasing the yields of, or otherwise improving on, the natural resource base? 23 In Latin America, the major domesticated plants – corn or maize in Mesoamerica and potatoes and quinoa in South America – are indigenous to highland regions (the high sierra region of the Andes and highland basins of the Central Plateau in Mexico), and it is in these regions that these crops were first domesticated. And not insignificantly, these are dry, semi-arid environments with a sparse natural resource base where Archaic period populations practiced a highly mobile form of hunting and gathering strategy known as “seasonal rounds” – which was associated with environments (like the arid highland valleys of Peru and Mexico) where the natural resource base was sparse and where individual resources were widely distributed across it. And in these types of environments, people had to move around throughout the year, to exploit the different kinds of resources that were seasonally available in different parts of the region. And even after they began domesticating plant crops, it was still several thousand years in some cases until those crops were productive enough to sustain year-round settlement in permanent villages. 24 25 And going back to the perspective that people took up agriculture not wherever and whenever they could but because they had to – we can look to South America perhaps for an example of how this might have been the case. I mentioned last “class” that along the coast of Peru, early Archaic period peoples practiced an affluent foraging kind of hunting and gathering strategy – meaning that the local natural resource base was such that people could settle down permanently in one place and acquire all that they needed year round from that one location. And long after the people in the highlands of the Andean region started cultivating domesticated plants, like quinoa and potatoes (both of which again are native to the highlands), the people on the coast were still deriving their subsistence from the local natural resource base, particularly marine resources, it seems. 26 The site of Paloma located in the Chilca River valley, appears to have been a permanent village of oval pit-houses at around 5500 B.C. The year-round occupation of Paloma (and other sites like it on the coast) was based not on agriculture, but on the intensive exploitation of wild resources in the region – including fish and shellfish and sea mammals from the sea, and plants and game from the lomas (which are fog meadows along the lower slopes of the Andes) – all accessible from the site and providing abundant sources of food year-round. 27 Plant cultivation was eventually taken up on the coast of Peru, but slowly. After 3600 B.C., there is evidence for the cultivation of domesticated species of certain plants [beans and squash], although wild plant foods and marine resources were still the dominant food sources. Probably the most important crop being cultivated on the coast was cotton – beginning about 2500 B.C. – which was used in the making of textiles, and as well as other things like fishing nets and bags. (This is one of a number of examples of twined textiles recovered from the site of Huaca Prieta on the northern coast of Peru). So – although various cultigens were gradually introduced to the coast, they do not seem to have made a huge impact on subsistence activities there, with the majority of subsistence resources still being derived from the sea and other local sources. 28 By around 2000 B.C., however, there appears to have developed an increasing reliance on agriculture on the Peruvian coast – as evidenced by large quantities of seeds and other remains belonging to domesticated plant species. And this increasing reliance on agriculture was associated with a subsequent shift in settlement further inland and upriver into the river valleys proper, where the rich bottom lands would have provided a better growing environment for crops. And both of these developments – i.e., a shift to an agricultural subsistence base further inland – seem to correspond in time with an El Niño event that would have produced a serious decline in the marine resources (including fish and shellfish populations) that coastal populations had previously relied so heavily on for food. A pattern suggesting that the impetus for a shift to a more fully agricultural economy was associated with the loss of secure natural resource of food previously provided by the sea. 29 By around 2000 B.C., however, there appears to have developed an increasing reliance on agriculture on the Peruvian coast – as evidenced by large quantities of seeds and other remains belonging to domesticated plant species. And this increasing reliance on agriculture was associated with a subsequent shift in settlement further inland and upriver into the river valleys proper, where the rich bottom lands would have provided a better growing environment for crops. And both of these developments – i.e., a shift to an agricultural subsistence base further inland – seem to correspond in time with an El Niño event that would have produced a serious decline in the marine resources (including fish and shellfish populations) that coastal populations had previously relied

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