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Hunter, gatherer… architect? Civilisation's true dawn

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   Subota, 19 Listopad 2013 00:00

By about 8300 years ago, people in the Levant – modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and parts of southern Anatolia – had the full package of Neolithic technologies: settled villages with communal buildings, pottery, domesticated animals, cereals and legumes. Art, politics and astronomy also have their roots this time. "It's one of the most important shifts in history," says Jens Notroff at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin.
And yet here was a settlement more than 3000 years older displaying many of those innovations, but lacking the technology that is supposed to have got the whole thing started: farming. The people who built Wadi Faynan were not nomads, but neither were they farmers. They probably relied almost exclusively on hunting and gathering.
Instead of agriculture, then, some very different motivations seem to have drawn these people together – things like religion, culture and feasting. Never mind the practical benefits of a steady food supply; the seeds of civilisation may have been sown by something much more cerebral.
For much of the 20th century our view of the Neolithic was seen through the lens of more recent social upheaval: the industrial revolution. The idea originated, in part, with Marxist archaeologist Vere Gordon Childe. Seeing the urban societies that had coalesced around factory towers and "dark satanic mills", Childe suspected that the first farms could have been similar hotbeds of rapid social and cultural change.

Izvornik je dostupan za pretplatnike na New Scientistu, a cijeli članak besplatno je objavljen i ovdje

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