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Global Environmental History10,000 BC to AD 2000$
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Ian Simmons

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748621583

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748621583.001.0001

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The gatherer-hunters and their world

The gatherer-hunters and their world

(p.24) Chapter Two The gatherer-hunters and their world
Global Environmental History

I. G. Simmons

Edinburgh University Press

For about 99% of the evolutionary history of Homo sapiens, we have been gathers and hunters. This-life way has largely disappeared except in a few marginal environments but carried distinctively low population densities and environmental impacts. Energy access was restricted to solar capture through plants and animals but manipulation of the land and its populations might be achieved through the use of controlled fire. Most foragers lived in a cohesive world in which they did not perceive themselves as separate from their land and their resources: moose were good to eat and good to think. Much was dependent on a social structure with few hierarchies and a population kept below any notion of maximum carrying capacity. For many years regarded as ‘savages’ remnant groups are now usually treated with respect even as their livelihoods are taken away.

Keywords:   Foraging, Population density, Fire, Cave art, Extinction

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