Message #277:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: It Takes A Childe To Raze A Village
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 96 09:30:00 MST
Encoding: 47 TEXT

[ A wag (no names mentioned) sent in this URL with a clever and oh so timely 
subject line -- SASIG Ed. ]

It Takes A Childe To Raze A Village

Gordon Childe and the  neolithic revolution
Gordon Childe's theory was that the adoption of farming constituted a 
revolutionary adjustment to the age-old way of life of the hunter-gatherers. 
 Paralleling biological evolution, Childe argued that the early 
village-farmers were extraordinarily successful, in that their population 
began to expand massively, so that they spread, colonising new territories 
and displacing the aboriginal hunter-gatherers with their  advanced  new 
economy. The area to which we should look for the origins of this new, 
revolutionary, farming way of life, Childe showed, was the Near East. While 
there were undoubtedly other centres where agriculture was evolved, in the 
Americas and in China for example, for Europe, Africa and much of Asia the 
hearth-zone was in western Asia, where the  raw materials  of the neolithic 
revolution (plants like wheat and barley, and domesticable herd animals like 
sheep and goat) had their natural habitats.

The model for the beginnings of agriculture - how Childe applied the theory 
referred to above to the Near Eastern scene in prehistory - was more 
concerned with the revolutionary consequences of the adoption of a new 
economic 'mode of production' (Childe was a convinced Marxist) than with the 
origins of this new way of life. He was writing in the first half of this 
century, before any relevant investigations had taken place, and when the 
duration of the early Holocene (post-Ice Age) period was greatly 
underestimated. The model is often referred to as his  oasis theory  of the 
beginnings of agriculture.

He suggested that climatic warming and desiccation of the environment at the 
end of the Pleistocene pressured the human population of the Near East, and 
other animals and plants, to concentrate on the remaining 'oases', areas 
like the great river valleys where groundwater remained abundant. 
Cultivation of crops and herding of animals began, therefore, in consequence 
of pressures from a shrinking environment and reduced natural resources. For 
Childe, the discovery of farming marked the escape from the insecurity and 
total environmental dependence of the hunter- gatherer and the new way of 
life was the foundation for all subsequent human progress and achievement. 
In turn, the success of the new way of life was marked by its  success , 
measured in the terms of biological evolution: the new farmers prospered and 
expanded, colonising new territory and displacing others.