What are similarities between hunters/gatherers and early farmers?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I do not know if this question is meant to refer to Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, but it is certainly possible to find an answer to the question in that book.  Diamond specifically addresses this issue on pages 106 and 107.

On these pages, Diamond...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

I do not know if this question is meant to refer to Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, but it is certainly possible to find an answer to the question in that book.  Diamond specifically addresses this issue on pages 106 and 107.

On these pages, Diamond argues that there are more similarities than people think between hunter-gatherers and early farmers.  He says that people tend to think that early farmers broke completely away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle but that this idea is not correct.  Instead, he says, there are three important ways in which the two groups were often similar to one another.

First, Diamond says that many hunter-gatherers in the days before agriculture were actually sedentary rather than nomadic.  In those days, there were no farmers taking up the best land so hunter-gatherers could find many places where they could settle in one place and still thrive using their economic system.  He cites the Pacific Northwest (US), along with Palestine, coastal Peru, and Japan as places where this happened.

Second, Diamond says that there are examples of people who farmed and yet were nomadic.  He says that some groups in New Guinea, Africa, and Asia (as well as the Apache of the Southwest US) who raise plants and/or animals and still live a nomadic lifestyle.  These first and second points show that hunter-gatherers and early farmers were sometimes similar in that they could both be sedentary and they could both be nomadic, depending on local circumstances.

Finally, Diamond argues that both hunter-gatherers and early farmers could be “active managers of their land.”  He says that people tend to think that farmers changed the environment while hunter-gatherers simply used it as it was.  This, he says, is not true.  He talks about people who modified their environments to allow the kinds of plants that they gathered to grow better.  This, he says, is similar to what farmers did.

In all of these ways, Diamond says, hunter-gatherers and early farmers could be rather similar to one another instead of being (as we often think) completely different.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team