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From Hunter-Gatherers to Agricultural Communities

The transition from hunter-gatherers to settled agricultural communities was a natural progression for African society, resulting mostly from increasing population densities and cultural exchange. As population densities slowly rose, people gravitated into exploitation of certain plant and animal species. Although agriculture is a relatively easy economy to transition into, it is rare for groups to return to hunting and gathering once the agricultural lifestyle is assumed. Thus sedentary communities developed, a characteristic of which was the gendered division of labor.

Although population density is a major factor in the economic transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, a "prime mover" may have initiated increases in population that favored agriculture. Theoretical models that subscribe to the prime mover theory postulate the existence of some major change within or outside a cultural system that brings about a transition to a new state of being. In terms of population density, environmental changes may have been a contributing stress factor. Environmental deterioration, e.g., the contraction of vegetation zones may have led to food shortages and the concentration of the population in certain areas.

Distinctions must be made in terminology when referring to domestication, agriculture, and sedentary communities. According to Wenke domestication is measured in terms of the change in physical characteristics of plant and animal species as a result of exploitation patterns by human beings: " . . . all through the Pleistocene hunters and gatherers had some effect on the genetic makeup of various plant and animal species." Thus domestication is a continous process that is altered based on the dictates of human consumption. In contrast, agriculture is a system of subsistence, the goal of which is to increase productivity. With predictable sources of food supply, population densities increase. Increased ...

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From Hunter-Gatherers to Agricultural Communities. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:13, April 22, 2019, from