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HRAF on Foragers

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What are hunter-gatherers of recent times generally like?

Based on the ethnographic data and cross-cultural comparisons, it is widely accepted that recent hunter-gatherer societies

  • are fully or semi-nomadic.
  • live in small communities.
  • have low population densities.
  • do not have specialized political officials.
  • have little wealth differentiation.
  • are economically specialized only by age and gender .
  • usually divide labor by gender, with women gathering wild plants and men fishing and almost always doing the hunting.

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Some cross-cultural findings are less widely discussed:

  • Compared to food producers, hunter-gatherers are less likely to stress obedience and responsibility in child training. On the other hand, hunter-gatherer cultures that emphasize hunting are more likely to stress achievement in children. (Barry, Child, and Bacon, 1959; Hendrix, 1985)
  • Compared to food producers, hunter-gatherers show more warmth and affection toward their children. (Rohner, 1975, pp. 97-105)
  • The songs of hunter-gatherers are less wordy and characterized by more nonwords, repetition, and relaxed enunciation (Lomax 1968, pp. 117-28)
  • In contrast to food producers, hunter-gatherers are less prone to resource unpredictability, famines, and food shortages. (Textor 1967; Ember and Ember, 1997:10)
  • Are hunter-gatherers more peaceful than food producers?

Some cross-cultural findings contradict each other, inviting further investigation:

  • it is widely agreed that, compared to food producers, hunter- gatherers fight less (Ember & Ember, 1997). But are hunter- gatherers typically peaceful? *Different researchers have arrived at different answers to this question. For example, Ember (1978) reported that most hunter-gatherers engaged in warfare at least every two years. Another study found that warfare was rare or absent among most hunter-gatherers (Lenski & Lenski, 1978; reported in Nolan, 2003).
  • Hunter-gatherer cultures differ from food-producing cultures in childrearing practices and vocalization. Food-producing cultures are more vulnerable to famines and food shortages.

A Himba Boy Cooks Lunch A Himba Boy Cooks Lunch

How we define terms will affect the sample and determine the outcome of a cross-cultural study. When asking if hunter-gatherers are typically peaceful, for example, researchers will get different results depending upon what they mean by peaceful, how they define hunter- gatherers, and whether they have excluded societies forced to stop fighting by colonial powers or national governments.

Most researchers contrast war and peace. If the researcher views peace as the absence of war, then the answer to whether hunter-gatherers are more peaceful than food producers depends on the definition of war. Anthropologists agree that war in smaller-scale societies needs to be defined differently from war in nation-states that have armed forces and large numbers of casualties. Also, within-community or purely individual acts of violence are nearly always distinguished from warfare. However, there is controversy about what to call different types of socially organized violence between communities. For example, Fry (2006: 88, 172-174) does not consider feuding between communities warfare.

How and why do hunter-gatherers vary?

Hunter-gatherers vary in many ways, but cross-cultural research has focused on variations in types of food -getting, contributions to the diet by gender, the degree of nomadism, the frequency of external and internal warfare, and marital residence.

  • The closer to the equator, the higher the effective temperature, or the more plant biomass, the more hunter-gatherers depend upon gathering rather than hunting or fishing. (Lee, 1968, pp. 42-43; Kelly, 1995, p. 70; Binford, 1990, pp. 132)
  • The lower the effective temperature, the more hunter- gatherers rely on fishing. (Binford, 1990, p. 134)
  • Males contribute more to the diet the lower the effective temperature or the higher the latitude. (Kelly, 1995, p. 262; Marlowe, 2005, p. 56)
  • In higher quality environments (with more plant growth), men are more likely to share gathering with women. Greater division of labor by gender occurs *in lower quality environments. (Marlowe, 2007)
  • Fully nomadic lifestyles are more likely as the growing season lengthens. (Binford, 1990, p. 131)

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  • Among hunter-gatherers, in contrast to other kinds of societies, division of labor predicts marital residence. The more a foraging society depends upon gathering, the more likely the society is to be matrilocal. The more dependence upon fishing, the more likely a society is to be patrilocal. Degree of dependence on hunting does not predict marital residence. (Ember, 1975)
  • Patrilocal hunter-gatherers do not have more warfare than those that are matrilocal. Among foragers, as in other societies, patrilocal residence is predicted by internal (within society) warfare or a high male contribution to subsistence; matrilocality is predicted by a combination of purely external warfare and a high female contribution to subsistence. (Ember, 1975)
  • Bilocal residence, rather than unilocal residence, is predicted by community size under 50, high rainfall variability, and recent drastic population loss. (Ember, 1975)
  • Hunter-gatherers with higher population densities have more warfare than those with low population densities. Similarly, more complex hunter-gatherer societies have more warfare than simpler hunter-gatherers. (Nolan, 2003, p. 26; Kelly, 2000,pp. 51–52); Fry, 2006, p. 106)
  • Hunter-gatherers with a high dependence on fishing are more likely to have internal warfare than external warfare. (Ember, 1975)
  • In New Guinea, foragers with a high dependence on fishing tend to have higher population density and large settlements. Some of the foragers in New Guinea with a high dependence on fishing have densities of 40 or more people/square km and settlements of over 1000 people. (Roscoe, 2006)

What We Do Not Know

San Hunters in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia.

  • Why do some foraging societies share more than others? Is meat consistently shared more than plants? Does sharing differ by gender?
  • Why should division of labor predict residence amongst hunter- gatherers, but not among food-producing cultures? (See Ember, 1975)
  • Do foragers with a high dependence on fishing tend to have higher population density and large settlements, as is the case in New Guinea? (See Roscoe, 2006)
  • How different are foragers with a little agriculture from those who lack agriculture?
  • Are foragers with horses more like pastoralists than foragers lacking horses?
  • Recently, discussion of the differences between complex and simple hunter-gatherers has increased. (See, for example,Fitzhugh, 2003; Sassaman, 2004). *Complex hunter-gatherers generally have considerable inequality and more political hierarchy.
  • What other differences are there between complex and simple hunter-gatherers?
  • What implications do such differences have for the emergence of complex foragers?

Special thanks to Kate Cummings for her assistance in preparing this module.



Just a word about matriliny and its evolutionary position in terms of Murdock. Note that Murdock could gain conclusions only from ethnographic fact. but facts limits ones observation to actually existing foragers. Since ethnographically known foragers suffer a loss of value in fertility, the sample is seriously biased, relative to the foragers of deep prehistory who peopled the world. Agriculturalists don't need the amount of space that foragers do and, hence, can experience positive marginally valued fertility, up until the demographic transition.

In other words, if we want to understand the social structures of 50 kya, we can't use the implications gained from existing foragers.


SoCalifornia Forager Map from Anthon


Evolution of hunting dogs

Pat Shipman. 2012. Do the Eyes Have It? Dog domestication may have helped humans thrive while Neandertals declined. American Scientist 100(3):198-205.

We all know the adage that dogs are man’s best friend. And we’ve all heard heartwarming stories about dogs who save their owners—waking them during a fire or summoning help after an accident. Anyone who has ever loved a dog knows the amazing, almost inexpressible warmth of a dog’s companionship and devotion. But it just might be that dogs have done much, much more than that for humankind. They may have saved not only individuals but also our whole species, by “domesticating” us while we domesticated them.

One of the classic conundrums in paleoanthropology is why Neandertals went extinct while modern humans survived in the same habitat at the same time. (The phrase “modern humans,” in this context, refers to humans who were anatomically—if not behaviorally—indistinguishable from ourselves.) The two species overlapped in Europe and the Middle East between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago; at the end of that period, Neandertals were in steep decline and modern humans were thriving. What happened?

A stunning study that illuminates this decisive period was recently published in Science by Paul Mellars and Jennifer French of Cambridge University. They argue, based on a meta-analysis of 164 archaeological sites that date to the period when modern humans and Neandertals overlapped in the Dordogne region of southwest France, that the modern-human population grew so rapidly that it overwhelmed Neandertals with its sheer numbers.

Because not all the archaeological sites in the study contained clearly identifiable remains of modern humans or Neandertals, Mellars and French made a common assumption: that sites containing stone tools of the Mousterian tradition had been created by Neandertals, and those containing more sophisticated and generally later stone tools of the Upper Paleolithic were made by modern humans. This link between tool and toolmaker is well supported by sites that do contain hominin remains, but there is nothing inherent in a stone tool that tells you who made it—not even if you find a skeleton right next to it. Still, stone tools are one of the best available indicators of which species—modern human or Neandertal—inhabited a particular location.

Mellars and French compared the number and sizes of Neandertal and modern-human archaeological sites, as well as the density of tools and the weight per square meter of prey animals, represented by fossils, in those sites. They standardized their results for 1,000-year periods to compensate for the varying amounts of time that the different locations had been occupied. In every respect, modern humans surpassed Neandertals. In fact, the greater success of modern humans was so clear that, according to Mellars and French’s calculations, the human population increased tenfold over the 10,000-year overlap period. Modern humans thrived and Neandertals did not—even though Neandertals had lived in the European habitat for about 250,000 years before modern humans “invaded.” Why weren’t Neandertals better adapted to their environment than the newcomers?

There is no shortage of hypotheses. Some favor climate change, others a modern-human advantage derived from the use of more advanced hunting weapons or greater social cohesion. Now, several important and disparate studies are coming together to suggest another answer, or at least another good hypothesis: The dominance of modern humans could have been in part a consequence of domesticating dogs—possibly combined with a small, but key, change in human anatomy that made people better able to communicate with dogs.


Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: Re: lots of fine tooth editing to increase likelihood of funding From: "Duran Bell" <> Date: Wed, February 2, 2011 8:58 pm To:

I am now looking at the magnum opus by Binford. The first chapters are interesting presentations of theoretical perspectives, largely gained from anthropology. So, i find his conception of the received wisdom to be interesting. He is particularly impressed with the results of optimal foraging theory. I have some issues there. But I see that he joins with everyone in believing the "domestic family" is the basic unit f*rom which other in groups arise*. I guess this comes strongly from Sahlins. However, this is clearly false. In almost every society that has a form of marriage (by my definition thereof), there is a larger group that creates it. A larger set of kin constructs domestic units for the sake of the long term benefits of the larger group. So, it is definitely not a case of the small unit producing the larger one. Why can't people see that? The problem is that people look at groups like the Shoshone I don't know much about them. I think they are the group of desperately poor desert guys who lack any forms of productive wealth, and hence no larger group. Perhaps, they don't even have marriage, since marriage requires validation and support from a larger group. Such exceptions are not as interesting as people make them. From an evolutionary perspective, such people totally lacking in wealth (in fertility) cannot contribute measurably to downstream genetic pools nor to cultural evolution.

Reply Subject: forager fractality and marriage networks From: Date: Thu, February 3, 2011 10:01 am To: "Duran Bell" <>

This page proof just came in ("Kinship, class and community." I agree with you. What we could do is examine the forager genealogies at Kinsources and see if broader kin-cohesion is associated with the fractal levels that Hamilton et al describe.

So far what we know from their study is that while most foragers have a family size index of 4, the Australians have an index of 6 and this correlates with monogamy/nonsororal polygyny. We also know they have broader cohesive networks.

It would be nice to show that the broader the cohesive marriage networks the larger the fractal unit for the society, above 4 to 6+.


Binford forager data - Manual for Dataset Construction and Causal Analysis. Description: 196 of the 339 societies are from the Ethnographic Atlas as of 1978 (Binford:116). They are numbered from 1-390 but the gaps are cases that were not sufficiently well documented for inclusion. Lewis Binford (2001:245-252) has references for the 339 cases, referencing the list in the bibliography. WE CAN TAKE THE LANGUAGE CODES FOR 175/339 (52%) FROM THE ATLAS, OR PERHAPS 196/339=57%. BUT AT BEST 143/339 ARE MISSING LANGUAGE CODES. SHOULD WE PREDICT missing data on LANGUAGES FROM NEIGHBORS?

setwd("C:/My Documents/Binford") 
ww<-read.csv("2colBin.csv", header=TRUE)
and is saved as distBin339.Rdata
Pages from Marlow hunter-gatherers and human evolutionMap.png
  • Hunter-Gatherer wiki
  • Robert Kelly (1955) The Forager Spectrum.jpg
  • Selk'nam (Ona) Indians considered extinct as of the late 1990s
  • Ju/'hoansi also known as the San, !Kung, or Bushmen
  • Great Basin Indians including the Shoshone, the Ute and the Paiute
  • East Asian Foragers
  • South American Foragers including the Ache, Hiwi, and Yanomamo
  • Arctic Foragers also known as the Eskimo / Inuit, including the Netsilik
  • Australian Aborigines located throughout the diverse climates and territories of Australia
  • Northwest Coast Indians including the Tlingit and Kwakiutl


I have

Binford data from Hamilton, UNM
Binford review from Kim Hill, ASU
Marlow.xls database from Kim Hill

Kim Hill

Subject: Re: [Fwd: Re: [Fwd: forager database]] From: "Kim Hill" <> Date: Wed, September 23, 2009 2:55 pm To: Cc: "Frank Marlowe" <>

Hi Doug, yes I have the DB that Frank M sent me last year. Chris Boehm has electronically coded versions of ALL the Binford tables and databases (I have these but you should ask Chris directly). I am somewhat concerned about the number of coding errors, the lack of justification for many coded values, some groups included that arent even hunter-gatherers, and the multiple use of different bands of the same ethnic-linguistic group in some world regions as if they were independent data points. For this reason I never used these databases for any publications. I see Frank moved to using the SCCS which I think probably has fewer problems. I prefer an even smaller sample of groups that have been well studied and for which high quality data are available (my research group is coding 58 hunter-gatherer societies that meet these criteria)

Anyway feel free to use if you like, but you might consider some of the comments I made about this database when I reviewed Lew's book. There is lots of noise in this, only very robust patterns may emerge.

Kim Hill

On Sep 22, 2009, at 7:13 PM, <> wrote:

Frank's response to my request is self explanatory: would you be  
willing to pass along the electronic version of Frank's "tidy part of the
dataset that went into creating all the tables in my Evol Anthro paper."

thanks, would be much appreciated
Doug White
Subject: Re: [Fwd: forager database]
From:    "Frank Marlowe" <>
Date:    Tue, September 22, 2009 10:22 am
Dear Doug,
The full dataset is not currently in a form that would be very easy
for others to figure out.  I am beginning a new book on foragers and
will be reporting on lots of new things from these data so will be
much more willing to share after that, when hopefully it would be in
tidier shape.  However, I did give Kim Hill the tidy part of the
dataset that went into creating all the tables in my Evol Anthro
paper.  I suggest you contact him and ask if you can get a copy of
that.  Since I have already reported on those variables at least with
descriptive stats I was ready to share those and got them in tidy
shape for him.  You can in fact pass this email along to him to show
him that it is fine by me if he shares the data with you.  Sincerely,
Frank     P.S. Tell Jon I said hello.
At 07:51 PM 9/21/2009, you wrote:
Dear Frank Marlowe,
Henry Wright suggested your 478 forager database for an SFI project  
we are doing (Jon Wilkins and I, applying for an NSF Bio Geo BSE grant). I  
have the EvoAnthro article not the database file. Would it be possible to
obtain an electronic copy of the database?
My home # is .....
I am the coauthor of the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample and curator  
of the SCCS databases bibliographies and codebooks published in sucessive  
issues of the eJournal World Cultures and its CD roms, cited in your  
footnotes 2 and 13.
Thanks for your help
Doug White

Michael Gurven & Selection by reputation/Empathetic giving (Boehm 2012:294)

Michael Gurven

Michael Gurven home - Google Citations

Michael Gurven. 2004. To give and to give not: The behavioral ecology of human food transfers. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (04), 543-559.

Abstract: The transfer of food among group members is a ubiquitous feature of small-scale forager and forager-agricultural populations. The uniqueness of pervasive sharing among

humans, especially among unrelated individuals, has led researchers to evaluate numerous hypotheses about the adaptive functions and patterns of sharing in different ecologies. This article attempts to organize available cross-cultural evidence pertaining to several contentious evolutionary models: kin selection, reciprocal altruism, tolerated scrounging, and costly signaling. ...

Michael Gurven, W. Allen-Arave, Kim Hill, and A. M. Hurtado. 2000. "It's a Wonderful Life”: signaling generosity among the Ache of Paraguay. Evolution and Human Behavior 21 (4), 263-282.

Description: Intensive food sharing among foragers and horticulturists is commonly explained as a means of reducing the risk of daily shortfalls, ensuring adequate daily consumption for all group members who actively pool resources. Consistently high food producers who give more than they receive, however, gain the least risk-reduction benefit from this daily pooling because they are the least likely to go without food on any given day. Why then do some high producers consistently share food, and why do some average producers share ...

Michael D. Gurven

Michael Gurven and Christopher von Rueden. Proofs. Hunting, Social Status and Biological Fitness. HSBI.

Michael Gurven and Kim Hill. 2009. Why Do Men Hunt? A Reevaluation of “Man the Hunter” and the Sexual Division of Labor. Current Anthropology Vol. 50, No. 1 (February 2009), pp. 51-74

The role of men in hunter‐gatherer societies has been subject to vigorous debate over the past 15 years. The proposal that men hunt wild game as a form of status signaling or “showing off” to provide reproductive benefits to the hunter challenges the traditional view that men hunt to provision their families. Two broad assumptions underlie the signaling view: (1) hunting is a poor means of obtaining food, and (2) hunted game is a public good shared widely with others and without expectation of future reciprocation. If hunters lack the ability to direct food shares and obtain subsequent benefits contingent on redistribution, then the ubiquitous observations of male hunting and universal pair‐bonding cannot be explained from a perspective that emphasizes kin provisioning and a division of labor. Here we show that there is little empirical support for the view that men hunt for signaling benefits alone. The ethnographic record depicts a more complex relationship between food sharing patterns, subsistence strategies, mating, and the sexual division of labor. We present a framework incorporating trade‐offs between mating and subsistence strategies in an economic bargaining context that contributes to understanding men’s and women’s roles in hunter‐gatherer societies.

Christopher von Rueden Home - The_Inheritance_of_Inequality_in_Pre-Modern_Societies SFI

Duran Bell

Re: hunter-gatherer quotes from binford From: "Duran Bell" <> Date: Thu, December 30, 2010 4:02 pm To:

Right On!! The assertion that H-G are egalitarian stems from a focus on only a small minority of such groups--those who are socially circumscribed (packed), such as the !Kung. In my view, inequality by age, gender, lineage are important forms of inequality with consequences for differential survival. I would want, also to look at the productive wealth held by some of these groups in the form of fertility and territory. However, I am not sure that "unranked" is always correct. Maybe. Depends on how rank is defined. It's an empirical question, not to be answered by definition of H-G.

This is exciting.


What Binford says about Egalitarianism

On Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 1:06 AM, <> wrote:

  • p467-468 LONG QUOTE, esp.: “sharing is very common among hunter-gatherer groups that have not approached the packing threshold, as is the practice —when necessary—of using tools and supplies that belong to other persons.” “There is truth in the claim that, below the packing threshold, hunter-gatherers are organized so that all participating individuals have maximal access to the vital resources that are accessible in their subsistence ranges. Participation in an economically integrated group means that all individuals endeavor to minimize the risk and maximize the return from cooperative labor that is directed toward obtaining the vital resources needed to sustain the group as a whole.” “It is also true that"

"nonpacked hunter-gatherers do not live in societies in which equal 'rights' are assured by the society. Rather, in their social world, trust and respect are built upon the lifelong associations and interactions of individual members. Persons who are not considered trustworthy or 'respectable' by the community may be denied not only equal access to resources but even their very right to exist, which is hardly compatible with the idea of an egalitarian society in which all individuals have rights to the corporately shared largesse." (Duran: does that fit your conception or not?)

  • p.38 classifications such as those on p.211 "--such as kin-based, egalitarian, based on mutual sharing of the products of labor (Gould 1981:434) and on the communal use of goods and resources (Lee 1980), typified by family-centered economics (Service 1966:8) or mode of production (Sahlins 1972:41-99)-- can be seen for what they really are: different organizational features requiring an explanation rather than essential properties of hunter-gatherer system-states."
  • p.211: "more discriminating classifications .... Two well-known ... bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states (Service 1962) or as egalitarian, ranked, stratified and state-level systems (Fried 1967)."
  • fn 6 p490: "The term 'egalitarian' makes sense only relative to stratified systems with centralized, authoritarian, power-based decision-making. A more appropriate term for generic hunter-gatherers is nonstratified or nonranked.

Frameworks for books

To: Duran and Woody Denham

Duran Bell and I were talking yesterday about ways to conceptualize the diversity of band societies in the range of “poster boy” societies from the !Kung to Australia. This may be helpful for the book. The focus on organization as the core theoretical framework is discussed in Murray Leaf's book Social Organization.

Many forager societies operate organizationally not only on principles of reciprocity, direct and indirect, among individuals, but on an ethic of responsibility for the environment which operates as a moral code within and between groups. When kinship ties form the basis of the group, a corporate charter often forms the basis of a resource-holding group in which cooperative activity may operate to increase wealth in consumable and further wealth-producing goods. These are not corporate groups in the sense of owning property defined for individuals in the group by a written document or contract. They are also formed around common recognition of and morally binding responsibilities for sites and territories and their resources. Persons who reside in the sites and territory of a given group who share the corporate charter, and those who acquire rights to visit, reside in, and use the resources of sites and territory are matters of alliance and exchange. Affines may join and neighbors visit, and the relatives of affines and of neighbors may acquire rights, including those of exchange, which allow fluctuations who and how many reside within a territory. The corporate group responsible for and having primary rights over a territory do not even necessarily reside in their territory. Fluctuations in natural resources and population density for different kinds of residents and their ecological niches require organizational management by corporate groups responsible for sites and territory. Thus, looking at management issues by organizations responsible for territories and activities or events within territories is a useful way of understanding the cultural, political, and economic dynamics of foragers in very different contexts.

For the Alyawarra the corporate group responsible for territories and sites within them are the patrilineages associated with the set of sacred sites for which they are responsible. The marriage alliances that are allowed are reckoned with respect to alternating generations with each of these territorially identified units, and given the apical ancestor of each such unit, alternating generations are strictly defined, although each generational moieties may have a full age-range of members of both sexes and so coexist in temporal parity as moieties, each with different categories of marriage partners. Each generational moiety may also spiral with respect to their respective marriage-alliance partners from different territories.

Exogamy recurs at the level of a single apical patriorganization, the union of all such patrilines and their alternating generations of a given type, and extends to integrated adjacent societies according to analogous patrilines and alternating generations.

Initiatory groups associated with the organizational sites of a given apical patriline for a defined set of sacred sites, where young men of each age cohort are trained for a decade or more to perpetuate the duties and prospects of the past, are charged with a complex management task and define one of the many residential modes for men.

Outside of initiatory groups, the residence patterns of the lineage segments for a given territory may vary along a number of dimensions. One alternative, nearly impossible except for a short period given limited resources, is coresidence at a common or sacred site. When subgroups of men disperse into separate groups, they are rarely patrilocal in the sense of married men with their fathers. The composition of these subgroups requires successive inventories that change over time. Are subgroups of women who live and migrate together much more stable?

In any case, here is a grid of concepts, principles and some questions that may be helpful in writing books that include foragers, as both of you are doing.

SCCS codes on extent of Foraging

table(sccs$v203,sccs$v818) #gathering   r=0.7861941
    1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 14 16
 1 19 63  0  1  0  3  0  0  0  0  0  0  0
 2  1 39  0  0  5  5  1  0  0  0  0  0  0
 3  0 11  1  0  3  8  0  0  0  0  0  0  0
 4  0  2  0  0  2  2  0  1  1  0  1  0  0
 5  0  0  0  0  0  3  1  1  2  1  0  1  0
 6  0  1  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  2  0  0  0
 7  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  2  0  0  1
 9  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1
table(sccs$v204,sccs$v817) #hunting    r=0.8511297
     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17
 1  21 41  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0
 2   4 30  2  3  2  6  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  0
 3   0 12  0  0  5 14  1  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0
 4   0  2  0  0  3 11  1  0  1  1  0  0  0  0  0  0
 5   0  0  0  0  0  5  0  1  2  1  1  0  0  0  1  0
 6   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  2  0  1  0  1  0  0  0
 7   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  1  0  0  1  0
 8   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0  0  0  0  0  1
 9   0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0
 10  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  0  1  0  0
                              203     204     205     206     207
                              Gath    Hunt    Fish    Anim    Agri
      0 =  0 - 5% Dependence   86      64      57      77      44
      1 =  6 - 15%             51      47      55      39      11
      2 = 16 - 25%             23      33      29      29       4
      3 = 26 - 35%              9      19      14      19       2
      4 = 36 - 45%              9      11      12       7      16
      5 = 46 - 55%              4       5      11       3      36
      6 = 56 - 65%              3       3       5       2      39
      7 = 66 - 75%              -       2       1       1      17
      8 = 76 - 85%              1       1       1       4      13
      9 = 86 - 100%             -       1       1       5       4
                          0  5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85+
                         == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==
816.  Imptnc Fishing     30 78  2  5  8 39     1  5  3  2  3  1  3  4  2
817.  Imptnc Hunting     25 85  2  3 11 36  2  2  7  4  2  1  1  1  1     1
818.  Imptnc Gathering   20116  1  1 10 22  2  2  3  5  1        1     2

Coastal Atacama Desert Foragers: Emergence of social complexity

Vivien G. Standen, Sebastián R. Abadesa, Marcelo M. Rivadeneira, Bernardo Arriaza, and Michael E. Hochberg. 2012. Emergence of social complexity among coastal hunter-gatherers in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. PNAS.

Edited by Michael E. Moseley, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, and approved July 12, 2012 (received for review October 11, 2011)

Abstract: The emergence of complex cultural practices in simple hunter-gatherer groups poses interesting questions on what drives social complexity and what causes the emergence and disappearance of cultural innovations. Here we analyze the conditions that underlie the emergence of artificial mummification in the Chinchorro culture in the coastal Atacama Desert in northern Chile and southern Peru. We provide empirical and theoretical evidence that artificial mummification appeared during a period of increased coastal freshwater availability and marine productivity, which caused an increase in human population size and accelerated the emergence of cultural innovations, as predicted by recent models of cultural and technological evolution. Under a scenario of increasing population size and extreme aridity (with little or no decomposition of corpses) a simple demographic model shows that dead individuals may have become a significant part of the landscape, creating the conditions for the manipulation of the dead that led to the emergence of complex mortuary practices.

Giorgio: I thought you might be interested in the article I found in the publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Yes, thanks: Doug