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Patterns of Subsistence


CHAPTER 18 Patterns of Subsistence CHAPTER 18 Patterns of Subsistence Intensive Agriculture As agriculture grows some farming communities will turn from small ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Patterns of Subsistence

  • Patterns of Subsistence

Chapter Preview
  • What Is Adaptation?
  • How Do Humans Adapt Culturally?
  • What Sorts of Cultural Adaptations Have Humans
    Achieved Through the Ages?

How Humans Meet Basic Needs.
  • Throughout human antiquity it is known that
    humans must have the ability to constantly make
    cultural adaptations to better survive and thrive
    in their natural environments or ecosystems.
    Meeting humans most basic needs are finding
    efficient methods to obtain food, shelter, and
    fresh water.
  • Ecosystem- functioning system that comprised of
    both the natural environment and the organism
    that inhabit it.

Cultural Adaptations Through the Ages.
  • Food foraging is the oldest and most universal
    type of human adaptation and typically involves
    geographic mobility.
  • Adaptations involving domestication of plants and
    animals, began to develop in some parts of the
    world about 10,000 years ago.
  • Horticulture led to more permanent settlements
    while pastoralism required mobility to seek out
    pasture and water.
  • Cities began to develop as early as 5,000 years
    ago in some world regions.

Adaptation in Cultural Evolution
  • The most common way for a group of people to
    adapt to their ecosystem is through their
    culture. Cultural Evolution is the process of
    cultures changing over time.
  • It is important to note that the idea of cultural
    evolution is not always in a positive light.
    Although this concept can often be confused with
    the idea of progress as if humans are
    progressing as a culture towards something better.

  • Not all changes turn out to be positive, nor do
    they improve conditions for every member of a
    society even in the short term. To better
    understand these there are two historical
    accounts of cultural evolution.
  • Case Study on The Native American Comanche

Convergent Evolution
  • The Native American Comanche were from the
    highlands of southern Idaho. They had
    traditionally subsisted on wild grains, small
    animals and the occasional large game that roamed
    the region. The possessed simple technology and
    equipment that was limited to what dogs could
    carry on their backs. They considered their
    shaman (spiritual and medicinal healer) as
    holding the highest social power.

  • Eventually the Comanche made a move towards the
    Great Plains region where they encountered a
    larger food supply such as free roaming bison
  • Trade for horses and guns began with nearby
    European settlers.
  • Over time Comanche traders began to hold a higher
    power within the group, one above the shaman, as
    they would go on raids to steal horses.
  • The society that started small and powerless,
    converged into a powerful and wealthy tribe.

  • The history of the Comanche is similar to the
    historical accounts of the Native American
    Cheyenne Indians. These peoples moved from the
    woodlands of the Great Lakes regions also into
    the Great Plains. Unlike the Comanche they took
    up farming which they later ceased to focus on
    hunting and gathering.
  • Both tribes developed similar solutions to living
    in the new environment

Convergent Evolution
  • Convergent Evolution as outlined by the Native
    America Comanche and Cheyenne is best described
    as the development of similar cultural
    adaptations to similar environmental conditions
    by different peoples with different ancestral

Parallel Evolution
  • Parallel Evolution as outlines by the development
    of farming in Mesoamerican SW Asia is best
    defined by the development of similar adaptations
    to similar environmental conditions by peoples
    whose ancestral cultures were similar.

Parallel Evolution
  • The other type of cultural evolution apart from
    convergent evolution is parallel evolution. The
    development of farming took place simultaneously
    in Southwest Asia and Mesoamerica. People in
    both regions already had similar life ways. They
    both became dependent on a narrow range of plant
  • Both developed intensive forms of agriculture,
    built large cities, and created complex social
    and political organizations.

Cultural Areas
  • Anthropologists have long identified that ethnic
    groups that co-habitat within the same
    geographical region many times share cultural
    traits that have been borrow from one culture to
    the next.
  • These groups have been classified as cultural
    areas, which are geographic regions in which a
    number of societies follow a similar pattern of

  • Many times these areas are defined by natural
    environmental conditions. The following is a list
    of some such regions in North American such as
  • Arctic
  • Plains
  • Southwest
  • Prairies
  • East

What determines Subsistence Patterns?
  • Although technological advancements and
    environmental factors play a significant role in
    a cultures subsistence patterns it is not the
    only defining trait. Political and social
    organization will also play a large role in the
    technology that will be invented and used-thus
    directly influencing what subsistence pattern a
    culture will use.
  • These features are known as the culture core.

Culture Core
  • The culture core is defined as the cultural
    features that are fundamental in the societies
    way of making its living. This can include
  • Food producing techniques
  • Knowledge of available resources
  • Work arrangements involved in applying those
    techniques to the local environment.

Culture Core and Food Ways
  • The culture core also influences other aspects of
    culture including the production and distribution
    of food. Religious views can define and prohibit
    certain cultural foods.
  • Muslims and Jews must abstain from eating pork
    because it is prohibited by their religion.
  • Hindus do not eat beef because their religion
    considers these animals to be sacred.

Modes of Subsistence
  • There are three main modes of subsistence
    patterns. Each mode will involve not only
    natural resources but also the developed
    technology to effectively utilize those
  • 1.) Food Foraging Societies
  • 2.) Food Producing Societies
  • 3.) Industrialized Societies

Characteristics of Food Foraging Societies
  • Nomadic
  • Occupy marginal environments (desert, arctic,
  • Small size of local groups (less that 100
    members) limited by carrying capacity
  • Populations stabilize at numbers well below the
    carrying capacity of their land.
  • Egalitarian, populations have few possessions and
    share what they have.

Food Foraging Organization
  • Four elements of food foraging organization
  • Mobility
  • Division of labor by gender.
  • Food sharing
  • Egalitarian Social Relations

  • Mobility of food foragers is strongly limited by
    their difficult living environments which they
    occupy. For instance the distance between their
    food supply and fresh water must not be so great
    that more energy is required to obtain fresh
    water than can be obtained from food.

  • It is necessary for food foraging groups to limit
    their population size due to the carrying
    capacity of the land which is defined by the
    amount of people the land and support with its
    available resources.
  • Often this can create what is called a density of
    social relations meaning that the limited
    availability for resources forces larger groups
    to live together. More people can create more
    social conflicts.

How do Food Foraging Groups Limit Population
  • One way that these groups limit population growth
    is by the prolonged nursing of infants. The
    longer the mother nurses the less likely she is
    to ovulate.
  • The other factor is their low percentage of body
    fat. Lower body fat leads to a later onset of
    ovulation and the onset of menstruation.

Labor by Gender
  • All societies have some type of division of labor
    by genders. Foraging Groups follow these two
  • Men hunting, butchering, process of hard or
    tough materials, and overall more dangerous
  • Women collecting food, domestic chores

Food Sharing
  • Men and Women will both share the fruits of their
    labor. Considering they each provide a different
    food resource that they continue to share with
    one another.
  • Food sharing among members and other nearing
    groups can also provide the basis for creating
    and maintain social allies and networks.

  • Among many food foraging societies egalitarianism
    is an important characteristic.
  • To be egalitarian means to have no status
    differences among members of a group. Generally
    the only status differences are with age and sex.
  • No one member will accumulate more goods than
    another, thus eliminating jealously and potential

Food Producers
  • The New Stone Age or Neolithic the prehistoric
    period beginning about 10,000 years ago in which
    peoples possessed stone-based technologies and
    depended on domesticated plants and/or animals.
  • This time period marks the emergence of a
    transition to food producing.

Transition to Food Production
  • The Neolithic revolution (transition) began about
    11,000 to 9,000 years ago. It was a time of
    significant culture change associated with the
    early domestication of plants and animals with
    settlement of permanent villages.
  • Probably the result of increased management of
    wild food resources.
  • Begin the development of simple hand tools for
    working the land.

Types of Food Producing
  • There are three main forms of food producing
    subsistence patterns
  • 1.) Horticulture
  • 2.) Agriculture
  • 3.) Pastoralism

  • The cultivation of crops using simple hand tools
    such as digging sticks or hoes.
  • Slash-and-burn cultivation (swidden farming).
  • An extensive form of horticulture in which the
    natural vegetation is cut, the slash is
    subsequently burned, and crops are then planted
    among the ashes.

  • Agriculture is defined as the cultivation of food
    plants in soil prepared and maintained for crop
  • It involves using technologies other than hand
    tools, such as irrigation, fertilizers, and the
    wooden or metal plow pulled by harnessed draft

Characteristics of Agricultural Societies
  • Similar to food foragers who stay nearby their
    food resources, food producers reside together
    near their cultivated fields in fixed
  • Historically, social relations would have been
    egalitarian and similar to those of food
    foragers. However, as settlements grew larger
    in population size people had to share important
    resources such as land and water, society became
    more elaborately organized.

  • Pastoralism or animal husbandry is the
    subsistence pattern of raising and maintaining
    herds of domesticated animals, such as cattle,
    sheep, and goats.
  • Pastoralists are usually nomadic. They share the
    similar concern of food foragers for finding
    fresh resources not only for their group but
    their herds as well.

Intensive Agriculture
  • As agriculture grows some farming communities
    will turn from small villages into larger cities
    including large centers of market exchange. This
    allows other members of the community to engage
    in other activities.
  • Carpenters, blacksmiths, sculptures, basket
    makers, stonecutters.
  • Carpenters, blacksmiths, sculptures, basket
    makers, stonecutters.
  • Eventually this creates an urbanization.

  • As urbanization including new life ways and
    complex culture these dwellers must rely on
    farmers in rural areas for most of their food
  • Over time it becomes increasingly important for
    urban dwellers to seek control over rural areas.
    Farmers eventually turn into peasants.

  • A rural cultivator whose surpluses are
    transferred to a dominant group of rulers that
    uses the surpluses both to underwrite its own
    standard of living and to distribute the
    remainder to groups in society that do not farm
    but must be fed for their specific goods and
    services in turn.

  • After the invention of the steam engine about 200
    years ago in England (which replaces human labor
    by machine labor) subsistence patterns changed in
    some regions.
  • North America, Europe, Asia will become centers
    of industrialization among areas of intensified
  • This has led to a multitude of technological
    inventions that utilize oil, electricity, and
    nuclear energy.