what is anthropology?

What does
Subsistence Mean?
Lesson 5:
Patterns of Subsistence
• A way of studying the relationship between an
organism and the elements in an environment
• Darwinian natural selection
• Adaption
• Biological or Cultural
• Humans cannot be studying ecologically like all
other biological organisms
Patterns of Subsistence
• Subsistence
• A fancy way of saying how people get their
• For most of human existence, we got our food
using one method, and one method only.
• Hunting and Gathering
What’s in a Name?
• Aside from hunting and gathering, what other
methods did these people use to acquire food?
• What types of food did they eat?
• NOT just nuts and berries
• How much of each (percentage) did they eat?
• Why “hunter gatherer”?
Food Foraging
• Less problematic way of labeling these groups
• Not one uniform group, instead many different
types of food foragers
• Very small groups – 30 – 100 people
• Linked by kinship and marriage
• Nomadic
• Must live near food
• Move when food is depleted
Personal Property
• No notion of personal property among food
• Food shared amongst the group
• Moving constantly
• As a result, there is no such thing a poverty
among the food foragers
• The “original affluent society”
A Food Forager’s Job
• The food forager’s jobs is to procure food
• Division of labor
– A specialization of jobs
– The more complex the group, the greater the
• How often must food foragers work per day in
order to acquire enough food?
• Do they have time for leisure?
The Rise of Domestication
• Roughly 15,000 years ago a major climatic
change took place as a global warming
• This freed up new land, and lead to
• When you take a plant or animal and select specific
traits to breed
• Leads to an organism dependent on humans to
Teosinte and Corn
Food Production
• The Agricultural Revolution takes hold at roughly
10,000 years ago in multiple places throughout
the world.
– Sheep, goats, wheat and barley in the Old World
– Maize, cassava, and potatoes in the New World
• Not all humans abandoned food foraging
– Those that did settled in permanent villages
– More food = more organisms
– Changing ideas about personal property
The Birth of Civilization
• With food production comes civilization
and an economy
Horticulture and Agriculture
• Horticulture
– Hand tools
– Gardens
– Many different crops
• Agriculture
– Large Tools
– Farms
– One or two main crops
Slash and Burn Horticulture
• Also known as “swidden”
• Practiced in places where the soil is not
naturally fertile
• Herders turn what we can’t eat (grass) into what
we can – animals, dairy, blood
– Use domesticated animals
– Move hundreds of miles per year
• Herders are not stuck in the stone ages
– Some will use GPS to track the herd
– Others, like the Laplanders will use snowmobiles
Exam Review Questions
What does the discipline of ecology study?
– What term did we use to refer to “a beneficial adjustment”?
– What is different about ecological studies of humans?
What does patterns of subsistence mean?
– What is the difference between food foraging and food producing?
– Can you define horticulture? Pastoralism? Agriculture?
• What is swidden?
– When did some human populations begin to switch to agriculture?
– What is Jared Diamond’s main argument in “Adaptive Failure: Easter’s End”?
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