Because They Could

Sax von Stroheim writes:


The sedentary lifestyle of farming allowed a vast elaboration of material culture. Food, shelter, and artifacts no longer had to be portable. Births could be spaced closer together, since mothers didn’t have to continuously carry small children. Food was now storable, unlike the typical products of foraging, and storable food could be stolen. For the first time, humans could begin to accumulate wealth. This allowed for nonproductive elites, which had been impossible among hunter-gatherers. We emphasize that these elites were not formed in response to some societal need: They took over because they could.

–Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending, The 10,000 Year Explosion

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4 Responses to Because They Could

  1. Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

    What a great book this is…


  2. epiminondas says:

    And, without reading this book yet, I suspect that the leaders in hunter/gatherer societies were “natural” leaders who excelled at the activities that were crucial to the survival of those groups. As opposed to, say, Lindsey Graham.


  3. agnostic says:

    The “deleted scenes” at the book’s website are worth looking at, too. This one is a great summary of the four main ways that people make a living around the world, and what their family life and culture tends to be like.


  4. Chris says:

    It is a superb book. Hopefully they will write another soon.


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