To science we owe dramatic changes in our smug self-image. Astronomy taught us that our Earth isn't the center of the universe but merely one of billions of heavenly bodies. From biology we learned that we weren't specially created by God but evolved along with millions of other species. Now archaeology is demolishing another sacred belief: that human history over the past million years has been a long tale of progress. In particular, recent discoveries suggest that the adoption of agriculture, supposedly our most decisive step toward a better life, was in many ways a catastrophe from which we have never recovered. With agriculture came the gross social and sexual inequality, the disease and despotism, that curse our existence.Click here for a PDF of the article.
I'll be the hunter, you be the gatherer
One of my favorite books is Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel. Buy it, read it, love it. The other day, I came across something that quoted Diamond as saying that "the invention of agriculture was the worst mistake in human history." Well, that's provocative. I got a few minutes today, and tracked down the source. It's a fascinating short article for Discover magazine. Here's the opening paragraph:
Posted by Ernie Bornheimer