Something to chew on: Why did humans Start domestication

Doctor Elic Weiztel raised the question which has always been a riddle: ‘why did humans start farming.’ She said: “A lot of evidence suggests domestication and agriculture don’t make much sense. Hunter-gatherers are sometimes working fewer hours a day, their health is better, and their diets are more varied, so why would anyone switch over and start farming?”

In this study published in ‘American Antiquity’, Weitzel searched for proof to support either of the following famous theories:

The first theory suggests that in times of prosperity there has been idle time to start experimenting with the domestication of plants which later got domesticated by the locals.

The second theory posits that in bad times out of the need to increase diets may have domestication happened.

Weitzel experimented with both hypotheses. He carried tests by examining animal bones from thousands of years ago from plenty of archeological sites. He matched the findings with pollen data.

He found out that the data corresponded to the second hypothesis since there was some type of unevenness between the growth of the human population & the base of their resources, possibly caused by climate change.

However, Weitzel also found evidence for the first hypothesis. He stated: “That is what we see in the animal bone data. Fundamentally, when times are good and there are lots of animals present, you’d expect people to hunt the prey that is most efficient. Deer are much more efficient than squirrels for example, which are smaller, with less meat, and more difficult to catch.”

He further added: “I think that the existence of declining efficiency in even one habitat type is enough to show that … domestication happening in times of plenty isn’t the best way to understand initial domestication.”

According to Weitzel, this broad factored research was important because examining the past and how these population showed adaptability to changes can enlighten us on how we should respond to the constant warming of the climate & its precedence in the following years. Weitzel told: “Having an archaeological voice backed by this deep-time perspective in policy making is very important.”