Missing link between hunter/gatherer and agricultural societies

Yet another abrupt switch in topics, but this just came across my desktop, and I found it fascinating. An 11,500 year old fairly massive structure was found in southeastern Turkey. No evidence of a permanent settlement. The food remains seem to be from wild animals and plants. From the article:

According to the German archaeologist in charge of excavations at the site, it might be the birthplace of agriculture, of organized religion — of civilization itself.

“This is the first human-built holy place,” Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute says in the November issue of Smithsonian magazine.

Schmidt and his colleagues say no evidence of permanent settlement has been found at the site, although there are remains of butchered animals and edible plants.

However, all of the bones are from wild animals, and all the vegetation from wild plants. That means the massive structure was built by a hunter-gatherer society, not a settled agricultural one.

It is not spelled out what specifically led Schmidt to believe this to be a holy place, but it would be fairly easy to guess. It seems likely that the social organization and time required for something like this could have been one of the contributing factors to the birth of an agricultural society and civilization, as the article suggests. One wonders what they were thinking? What could have inspired a hunter gatherer people to invest the resources into erecting several ton ten foot monoliths. Perhaps it was this:

2001_monolith_small

Kudos to those who recognize this classic.

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2 Responses to “Missing link between hunter/gatherer and agricultural societies”

  1. watercat Says:

    I remember from anthropology class that people used to assume agriculture was a neccessary step on the road to civilization, but this theory was overturned. The new evidence came from places like the Pacific Northwest US where food was naturally abundant. Looks like there’s been a lot of environmental degradation in the ME since then.

    They didn’t work in stone but they spent a lot of effort on totem poles etc. in their dick-waving contests. If you can’t show off by driving a Hummer, at least you can have a bigger rock.

    ps. I hated that movie.

  2. liquidthinker Says:

    Watercat — Good points and it makes sense. I’ll have to look into the Pacific Northwest evidence one of these days. It’s been a while since my own anthro class. Didn’t like 2001? Wow. Admittedly it was a bit of a slow moving movie. But you get points for recognizing the reference.

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