Title: Why Foragers Become Farmers: Development and Dispersal of Food Producing Economies in Comparative Perspective


Zimmermann, Andreas

Date issued/created:


Resource type:



Between History and Archaeology : papers in honour of Jacek Lech


Archaeopress Archaeology

Place of publishing:

Oxford; England


29 cm


To understand the transformation from foragers to farmers it seems promising to integrate several theoretical approaches. To do so it is first necessary to distinguish different conceptions of evolution. Next, we have to think about what food producing is. Is it already burning the forest to improve hazelnut harvest or is it only dealing with domesticates like maize and wheat? In the end, we have to care for a debate between two important theoretical directions of today. Processual Archaeologists identified adaptation and political economy as important behaviors during this transformation. For Postprocessual Archaeologists what matters is agency. The proposition to reconcile these seemingly conflicting positions is to develop an integrative and comparative perspective within a Hermeneutical approach. In this respect, Johann Gustav Droysen stimulated the following paper with his textbook ‘Historik’ from 1882


Barker, G. 2006. The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory. Why did Foragers become Farmers?, Oxford, Oxford University Press ; Barrett, J. C. 2013. Agency: A Revisionist Account. In I. Hodder (ed.), Archaeological Theory Today, Cambridge, Polity, 146–166 ; Bellwood, P. and Oxenham, M. 2008. The Expansion of Farming Societies and the Role of the Neolithic Demographic Transition. In J.-P. Bocquet-Appel and O. Bar-Yosef (eds), The Neolithic Demographic Transition and its Consequences, Dordrecht, Springer, 13–33 ; Brown, D. E. 1991. Human Universals, New York, Temple Univ Pr. ; Childe, V. G. 1936. Man Makes Himself, London, Coronet Books ; Childe, V. G. 1941/1946. What happend in History, New York 1946, 1, Edition Harmondsworth ; Cauvin, J. 2000. The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press ; Droysen, J. G. 1882. Grundriss der Historik, Leipzig, 3. changed edition [First Edition 1858] ; Dyson-Hudson, R. and Smith, E. A. 1978. Human Territoriality: An Ecological Reasessment, American Anthropologist 80, 21–41 ; Flannery, K. V. 1969. Origins and ecological effects of early domestication in Iran and the Near East. In P. J. Ucko and G. W. Dimbleby (eds), The domestication and exploitation of plants and animals. Conference London, London, Aldine Pub. Co., 73–100 ; Flannery, K. V. 1973. The Origins of Agriculture, Annual Review of Anthropology 2, 271–310 ; Galinat, W. C. 1985. Domestication and diffusion of maize. In R. J. Ford (ed.), Prehistoric Food Production in North America, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum, 245–278 ; Gruissem, W. and Bättig–Frey, P. 2009. Magere Zeiten – Die Herausforderungen der modernen Landwirtschaft, BioFokus 80, 1–16 ; Haak, W., Balanovsky, O., Sanchez, J.J., Koshel, S., Zaporozhchenko, V., Adler, J., Der Sarkissian, C.S.I., Brandt, G., Schwarz, C., Nicklisch, N., Dresely, V., Fritsch, B., Balanovska, E., Villems, R., Meller, H., Alt, K.W. and Cooper, A. 2010. Ancient DNA from European Neolithic Farmers Reveals their Near eastern Affinities, PLoS Biology 8, Issue 11 ; Hammer, M.F., Karafet, T.M., Perk, H., Omoto, K., Harihara, S., Stoneking, M. and Horai, S. 2006. Dual origins of the Japanese: common ground for huntergatherer and farmer Y chromosomes, Journal of Human Genetics 51, 47–58 ; Hayden, B. 1990. Nimrods, Piscators, Pluckers, and Planters: The Emergence of Food Production, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 9, 31–69 ; Johnson, A. 1989. Horticulturalists: Economic Behavior in Tribes. In S. Plattner (ed.), Economic Anthropology, Stanford, Stanford University Press, 49–77 ; Johnson, M. 1999. Archaeological Theory. An Introduction, Oxford and Malden Ma, Blackwell Publishers ; Kelly, R. L. 1995. The foraging spectrum. Diversity in huntergatherer lifeways, Washington and London, Eliot Werner Publications ; Korte, H. 2000. Einführung in die Geschichte der Soziologie 6, Edition Opladen, VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften ; Kreuz, A. 2010. Die Vertreibung aus dem Paradies? Archäobotanische Ergebnisse zum Frühneolithikum im westlichen Mitteleuropa, Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 91, 23–196 ; Lubbock, J. 1865/1874. Prehistoric times, as illustrated by ancient remains and the manners and customs of modern savages, London, Williams and Norgate [German edition Jena 1874] ; Malinowski, B. 1939. The Group and the Individual in Functional Analysis, American Journal of Sociology 44, 938–964 ; Malinowski, B. 1944/1966. A Scientific Theory of Culture and Other Essays, New York/Oxford 1966, Oxford University Press ; Müller, W. 1999. Gartenbau. In W. Hirschberg (ed.), Wörterbuch der Völkerkunde, Berlin, Reimer, 141 ; Sieferle, R. P., Krausmann, F., Schandl, H. and Winiwater, V. 2006. Das Ende der Fläche: Zum gesellschaftlichen Stoffwechsel der Industrialisierun, Köln Weimar–Wien, Böhlau Köln Umwelthistorische Forschungen 2 ; Smalley, J. and Blake, M. 2003. Sweet beginnings: stalk sugar and the domestication of maize, Current Anthropology 44, 675–703 ; Smith, B. D. 2001. Low Level Food Production Economies, Journal of Archaeological Research 9, 1–43 ; Stegmüller, W. 1987. Hauptströmungen der Gegenwartsphilosophie II. 8. Edition Stuttgart, Kröner ; Werning, J. 2003. Früheste Scherben, frühester Reis, früheste Hirse: Zur Neolithisierung in China. Eine kritische Betrachtung. In: J. Eckert, U. Eisenhauer and A. Zimmermann (eds), Archäologische Perspektiven. Analysen und Interpretationen im Wandel. Festschrift Jens Lüning, Rahden/Westfalen, Vlg Marie Leidorf, Internationale Archäologie 20 ; Zimmermann, A., Wendt, K.P, Frank, T. and Hilpert, J. 2009a. Landscape Archaeology in Central Europe, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 75, 1–53 ; Zimmermann, A., Hilpert, J. and Wendt, K.P. 2009b. Estimations of Population Density for Selected Periods Between the Neolithic and AD 1800. In J. Steel and St. Shennan (eds), Special Issue on Demography and Cultural Macroevolution, Human Biology 81, 357–380

Start page:


End page:


Detailed Resource Type:


Resource Identifier:





Creative Commons Attribution BY-SA 3.0 PL license

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. [CC BY-SA 3.0 PL] May be used within the scope specified in Creative Commons Attribution BY-SA 3.0 PL license, full text available at: ; -

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Projects co-financed by:

Operational Program Digital Poland, 2014-2020, Measure 2.3: Digital accessibility and usefulness of public sector information; funds from the European Regional Development Fund and national co-financing from the state budget. ; European Union. European Regional Development Fund

Object collections:

Last modified:

Jun 30, 2020

In our library since:

Jun 30, 2020

Number of object content hits:


All available object's versions:


Show description in RDF format:


Show description in OAI-PMH format:




Citation style:

This page uses 'cookies'. More information