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First Farmers

In an effort to support the existing facts on early farming, he also discusses the origins and spread of major language families that came out of agricultural homesteads. He attempts to explain the slow-paced and laborious development of agricultural societies that has been emphasized by other researchers. Following this perspective, colonial farming populations dispersed away from their homesteads and in varying extents their languages, material culture as their genes substituted those of non-agricultural populations in freshly colonized areas. Bellwood supports this notion by giving the example of Austronesian speakers dispersed across Indo-Malaysia. His interpretation of agricultural development stems from the theoretical framework of demic diffusion versus social interaction dichotomy and subsequent dispersal to various regions of the world. This dichotomy is deliberately a general approach where either pole is admitted to be an extreme that is an unlikely past occurrence, notwithstanding the period of settlement in uninhabited areas. One pole, demic diffusion, he provides a final but halfway explained analysis by stating that it results from the constant trails of merging populations, consecutive bottle-necks and sex-specific disparity migration. Fundamentally, Bellwood’s theory suggests that one will be inclined to find a prehistory of farming and a dominant family of languages in every region of the world, with the exception of regions that agriculture was difficult or impossible to carry out or just never developed. He mentions the contribution of hunting and gathering populations to the spread of languages across many parts of the world, and thus coming into nearly all presently inhabited areas. However, there is the exception of Australia, Pacific Islands and Melanesia and there are differences in the extent of the spread of languages. This is because the pre-historical era of hunters and gatherers was defined by a gradual dispersal of human populations, even though there were bursts of quick progress and expansion, for instance, coming out of Asia into and across the New World. On the other hand, development of cultivation and domestication generally brought about a much more quick expansion of populations, and thereby their languages. In addition, the farming population progressed into regions that were inhabited, either wholly or at least partially, by hunters and gatherers. Because of the diffuseness, referring to the spread of agricultural techniques without a large movement of people, of certain regions Bellwood has clearly shown bias. These regions comprise Southwest Asia where dispersion occurred throughout Europe and Asia, and East Asia with following dispersion throughout Southeast Asia and Oceania. Comparatively, New Guinea is given superficial discussion, yet it is considered a great force concerning the prehistory of the Pacific. Nonetheless, Bellwood’s non-bias to this region can be explained by the fact that its contribution to the enduring history of the Pacific is because of social interaction rather than demic diffusion within proximity of Oceania, before the mid-Holocene migrations. Largely, the Eurasian region receives ...Show more


Date Book Review- “First Farmers: The Origin of Agricultural Societies” by Peter Bellwood Encompassing the past 12,000 years, First Farmer: The Origin of Agricultural Societies offers a relative assessment of the development and spread of agricultural activities across various parts of the world where, Peter Bellwood, the author utilizes data from biological anthropology, archaeology and comparative linguistics…
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