Saturday, March 29, 2014


Following comments by Michael Webster ( along standing regular reader of Lost Legacy, I want to explore the consequences for early and proto-humans in the long, so-called ‘pre-history’ of our species.  We have a ‘marker’ species against which we can ‘measure’ human’ performance – the chimpanzees that stayed still in mid-Africa. 
Archeology also provides our ‘history’ well beyond the written record that currently provides our very short literate ‘History’ (a few Millennia).  I adopt a perspective of history that includes all of the detailed archeological record from the stone-age (the data is quite deep from the Lower Pleistocene (1 million BP) and nearly prolific from 500,000 BP, and then very prolific from 100,000 BP.
To the cases: humans slowly spread across Africa, and apparently so did pre-humans before them. Following water-courses (Nile), humans then crossed into Europe and eventually along the North Mediterranean coast and East. Daily movement in search of food was imperative with various strategies – locust style, casual mobile harvesting, small species hunting, seasonal visits, new food sources, group adult hunting, herd following, limited shepherding, limited plant gathering, seasonal settlements, sporadic farming, sporadic contact with other groups, including, eg. Neanderthals.
My brief point is that these traces required daily decisions for groups (family, extended families, larger groups) with thin margins for errors and violent disputes, especially amidst regular environmental and climate changes, which over millennia were ‘frequent’. 
We cannot know for certain how decisions were reached; we can see in the records often buried in the ground, in caves, and in ‘middens’, how groups performed and details of their diets.  Hence, on a results basis –brutal, no doubt – those that lasted for centuries or millennia, viably ‘solved’ the decision problem, others disappeared within the short-lifetimes of those who got it wrong. Moreover, those that got it right more often than wrong, left their record for us to ‘read’ in slowly changing organised encampments, even primitive structures and domestic living spaces, plus their ‘tools’.
One large study I found is Cyprian Broodbank’s “The Making of he Middle Sea: a history of he Mediterranean from the Beginning to the Emergence of the Classical World”, Thames and Hudson (via Amazon).
It is a conscious changing experience about Human deep history, grounded in science.  It certainly put the modern debate – by implication – over the market versus state stalemate into perspective, at least for me.


Blogger Sean Vosper said...

OK, so you got me interested...and,what does it say? Any nuggets of wisdom contained in this work?
I'm convinced that these statist vs. free markets debates relate to our naturalistic human societal norms - which relate back to those periods. More detail please.

10:16 am  
Blogger Gavin Kennedy said...

Hi Sean
Thank you for commenting so positively and I would like to address your questions in more detail.
For that I need to be a bit clearer as to your concerns.
You can write to me via the address at the head of Lost Legacy once you put into the appropriate format.
In so far as ALL human societies (and some primate groups) operate some distinguishable control form (nascent states) and ALL societies engage in what Adam Smith called "Exchange" relationships 'Wealth Of Nations' we have something to work with.
Exchange can format as violence (a common feature of early societies too and with quite high mortality rates as % of population). The institution of relatively pacific forms was leap forward for humans, but was not universal (it still isn't today yet).

4:08 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home