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▶  More from Ancient Combat Author's Notebook Site Reviews A Dread Grace
‘Farming Stopped in Its Tracks’
Exploring a Prehistoric Borderland by Eric A. Powell, Archaeology, May/June 2018


The subtitle reads “Hunter-gatherers in northern Europe withstood the spread of agriculture for 1,500 years”

Thankfully the author considers numerous suggestions as to why a free people would not immediately leap at the opportunity to become slaves. Many of the scientists considering the halt of farming along a forested no-man’s land cannot fathom why people would not give up a free-living life style of hunting and gathering when they could dig and grind and ruin their backs and knees for a lower taste lower protein lower fat diet?

There also seems to be a lack of understanding as to how the more numerous farmers did not just push the less numerous hunters out of the way. Any cause but violence may be considered. The scientists also labor under the belief that food sharing war “forced” among primal folk, when generosity seems to have been the way of things and the very real inability to carry around more than you needed would make sharing make a whole lot more sense than hoarding.

Grave goods with mixed implements of hunter and farmer weapons also make no sense to the hopelessly postmodern minds considering the mystery of hunter-farmer coexistence.

A look at known Amerindian dynamics would be useful, such as the habit of the Apache collecting maize taxes from the Navaho, who placed corn cribs on the borderland for the Apache so that the killers would not attack the farming community.

In the end there is no known cause, and probably no single cause why for 1,500 years the hunters of northern Europe decided to remain free. However, in the Bronze and Iron Age that followed there are signs from both sides of the civilized and barbarian divide; that civilized rulers treasured the hunting traditions of their forefathers through preserve hunting, ritual hunts and animal fights and weaponry—such as the bow of Odysseus, such a bow as only a life-long hunter could draw—and the club and hide garment and exploits of Heracles, patron deity of Roman Emperors; and that agricultural societies in northern Europe as diverse as the Germans and Gaelic tribes declined to maximize grain production and maintained vast forests and viable game populations well into the Middle Ages.

According to Powell’s survey the hunters and farmers both treasured things that the other produced and yet miraculously declined to give up their own way of life for that which produced the object of their fancy. As alien as the ideal of coexisting lifeways is to the modern mind, perhaps there was once a time when races of people known to one another were content with being unique rather than relentlessly seeking the softest and most slavish way of life.

By the Wine Dark Sea

https://www.amazon.com/Wine-Dark-Sea-Sourcebook-Adventures/dp/1508635870/ref=sr_1_26?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486741085&sr=1-26&refinements=p_27%3AJames+LaFond

http://jameslafond.blogspot.com/

Add Comment
Bryce SharperFebruary 2, 2019 5:10 PM UTC

"There also seems to be a lack of understanding as to how the more numerous farmers did not just push the less numerous hunters out of the way. Any cause but violence may be considered"

I don't see why this is so difficult to understand. The ebon warriors of the ANC have stopped farming in its tracks in South Africa and before that, Rhodesia. Farming works in areas with strong property rights and stability and not elsewhere.
BP BollocksworthJanuary 31, 2019 5:25 PM UTC

The first farmers farmed “loes” soil, or river land soil. Their farming methods and lack of horses to pull plows, limited their ability to extract food from the landscape. Their tool kit wasn’t much different from the wild men either, stone arrows, stone blades, later some limited copper and bronze. Their settlements thus tended to hold to rivers, keeping their numbers lower than bronze or Iron Age farming would support. Imagine how shitty Anatolian bean-eaters who don’t even have guns would have fared against the injuns. They gradually got better at farming Europe, interbred with the HGs. These bean- and einkorn-fed dopes must have been a cakewalk for the IndoEuropeans, fueled on beef and other livestock, riding freaking horses and deploying the wheel for the first time.
Ruben ChandlerJanuary 31, 2019 2:01 PM UTC

I lived at McChord AFB up near Tacoma for a while as a kid.......52 years ago or so. Ranier was always there, more than an afterthought. You are def in a bigfoot hot zone, UFO activity and skin walkers. Not much hoodrat activity. It'll be interesting to see how your writing shifts. You're in Ken Kesey country too. I think his 'Sometimes a Great Notion' was from up there.
responds:February 1, 2019 1:39 PM UTC

I am currently coaching a Big Foot—I believe now!
Ruben ChandlerJanuary 30, 2019 2:46 PM UTC

The arrival of the Bronze gods perhaps? Priests, churches, and "royalty" needing a vassal class? What a marvelous nook to explore. Welcome to the west coast my friend! My best Cali friend since 1983 moved to Portland a few years ago. Died there last year. No sadness in that btw, he shoulda grown up and stopped messing with the shit. I'm sure we'll cross paths at some point now. Glad you're out of the murder bowl contender city. Exploring Hwy 1/101 coastal route will clear the mind.
responds:January 31, 2019 1:06 PM UTC

I-5 was awesome, Could see Mt. Rainer for 4 hours.