The first argument suggests that the development of agriculture was driven by a scarcity of resources. The second argument differs radically, claiming that it was a surfeit of resources that encouraged domesticity. This paper will discuss and compare these two argument types and conclude that while no one model appears to have all the answers it is Hayden’s model that appears more convincing.
There are obvious academic merits attached to finding a solution to the problem of formative agriculture. Indeed, since the time of Darwin scientists, social-scientists, historians even theologians have all tried to put forward a convincing model that explains why certain hunter-gatherers decided to change thousands of years of practise and begin agriculture (Richerson et al 387-390). There have been a series of interesting and intriguing theories during that time – ranging from population pressure driving domestication to the development of rituals and theology encouraging a sense of place (Hayden 31). Naturally, the stakes are high. A well developed universal model of domesticity would explain once and for all the most important transition in human history. However, such a complete model does not yet exist.
Two of the more interesting theories have to do with climate change, put forward here by Peter Richerson et al, and “competitive feasting” as explained by Brian Hayden, who suggests that the surplus of food encouraged social adaptation that encouraged the continued development of further agriculture and domesticity.
The climate change theory consists of two major ideas. Essentially, there were ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors. The former, at least according to Richerson and his colleagues, consisted of a sense of competition between Holocene societies which in effect made the development of agriculture during this period all but “compulsory” (Richerson 387). The second factor is comparatively simple –