Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

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Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby delilalaw23 on August 4th, 2015, 7:12 am 

Archeologists have found evidence at a site on the shores of the Sea of Galilee showing people were farming 11,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Pretty amazing stuff!

http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/201 ... y-thought/
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Re: Archeologists: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 4th, 2015, 9:25 am 

It's interesting to see how falling sea levels are revealing more refinements to the types of discoveries in the region first revealed by submersibles, sonar and ground penetrating radar. For example, a friend of mine was on one of Bob Ballard's expeditions doing the archeological work on the submerged coastlines and floor of the Black Sea that subsequently led to the Black Sea Deluge Hypothesis.

To me, it only makes sense that evidence for early agricultural civilizations will continue to progress backwards in time parallel with our knowledge of early hunter gatherer civilizations. It seems like a no brainer that as hunter gatherers moved into regions and climes that were sufficiently bountiful and hospitable enough for year round habitation that some groups would opt to stay and adapt their survival techniques to non-nomadic life. We already knew of advanced and adaptable nomadic peoples that far back, and further {ex: Clovis Point people, et al} in different regions, so it was just a matter of time before evidence found permanent settlements of stationary analogs in the region in question.
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Re: Archeologists: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby delilalaw23 on August 4th, 2015, 9:47 am 

Yes, I'm looking forward to more discoveries submerged along the Black Sea coastline. And I agree, it makes perfect sense that forms of proto-farming were practiced many thousands of years before widespread agriculture took hold at the close of the last ice age.

What puzzles me is how little attention this fascinating story has received! The paper was published July 22 and I'm one of the only science writers who's picked up on it.
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Re: Archeologists: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 4th, 2015, 11:05 am 

delilalaw23 » August 4th, 2015, 9:47 am wrote:What puzzles me is how little attention this fascinating story has received! The paper was published July 22 and I'm one of the only science writers who's picked up on it.


It could be a combination of many things ... first and foremost being topic fatigue (re: there was already a lot of hoopla in the media back when the Black Sea Deluge and the hypothetical link to the primordial flood myths of the region first debut'd), followed later by the truly wretched "Noah" movie (which doubtless soured many on the topic), plus the likely perception that this is a 'sloppy seconds' follow-on (i.e., simple date refinement to work that is no longer new/revolutionary).

I hate to sound misanthropic, but one should never underestimate the ignorant short-sighted self-centered and often vacuous venality of the mass media, and even more so the hoi polloi they cater to for ratings. I find professional trade publications (or niche writers paralleling same) are usually, but not always, quite a bit better about such things.
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Re: Archeologists: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on August 4th, 2015, 12:19 pm 

cool
Here is one of the articles
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0131422

One of the authors, Weiss, is also publishing on effects of grain on gut bacteria.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.7340/abstract
CONCLUSION
Wheat and barley differently influence microbial composition particularly in the small intestine, with barley increasing Lactobacillus spp.:Enterobacteriaceae. ratio, underlining its potential to beneficially manipulate the intestinal microbial ecosystem.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Paralith on August 4th, 2015, 12:40 pm 

I don't think it's exactly a surprise to find examples of agriculture prior to the 10k mark. The 10k mark is, I believe, when it really began to become a widespread and common mode of subsistence for much of the human population. But that certainly doesn't preclude smaller pockets of earlier agriculture existing in places where the conditions were particularly good for it.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on August 4th, 2015, 12:53 pm 

I think it could turn into a debate about semantics. It makes the most sense to me that humans picked it up slowly over time as they discarded leftover fruits/collected foods around their shelters only to notice plants starting to grow and over time realized it was the seeds and that they could use to control growing something by planting a seed. There may have been a whole religion for 5000 years where they sacrificed a whole fruit into the ground so that it gave rise to a tree/plant which then gave more food until one day when someone went against that belief claiming it was the seed inside the fruit and there was no whole fruit god, but a seed god. Maybe that moment is when "agriculture" jumped up to the next level.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby delilalaw23 on August 5th, 2015, 1:59 am 

Not that long ago I wrote an article about experiments with chimps showing they not only preferred cooked veggies over raw ones, but when given an oven and taught how to cook, they'd defer gratification and wait the time it took for them to collect, store, and roast their food rather than scarf it down raw right away. The only point I'm making really is that our ancient human ancestors--even going as far back as the last common ancestor of chimps and humans--were a lot smarter than often given credit for and probably were limited in their cultural and technological development more by anatomy (inability for complex language) and environment (vast ice sheets covering much of the Earth) than by brain power. So, acquaintance with and understanding of farming practices could have been around a long, long time before they became widely used.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Forest_Dump on August 7th, 2015, 8:30 pm 

I thought the article was actually pretty good and interesting but I think a few points should probably be brought up. First it can be extremely difficult to distinguish domesticated plants from their wild ancestors given that people at the time had little or no knowledge or experience with the kind of long range planning over hundreds or thousands of years necessary. Its pretty safe to say that we can't be sure whether they were deliberately planting or simply harvesting from patches of wild wheat, etc. Only a very detailed analysis of the preserved seeds can answer the question of whether they show convincing evidence of being seeds with a stronger richis, etc., because that would indicate seeds that would not propagate naturally in that they would not fall off the stem easily which would make them easier to be harvested and stored for seed crop. The article also mentioned harvesting and processing tools but again the same tools were used for harvesting wild plant food. A little more interesting is the reference to weeds that grow on disturbed ground. The authors note that these would grow on fields but they would also colonise the ground disturbed around a settlement from simple trampling of the ground. An interesting example of parallel reasoning was actually an hypothesis forwarded by David Rindos regarding weeds colonising semi-sedentary camps in eastern North America where these weeds would produce edible seeds and over preferential picking of these local weed seeds andf perhaps increasingly tending these in proto-gardens over some centuries, several types of plants ultimately domesticated (e.g. goosefoot, amaranth, sunflowers and perhaps tobacco). While I would not doubt there were a number of early experiments in horticulture and gardening that ultimately failed for any number of reasons I am always cautious about these kinds of claims that would push the date of domestication so far back in time. If there was enough success in gardening to warrant any kind of change in lifestyle such as putting in the work to till fields in any significant way, reschedule other resource procurement, etc., that could take generations to achieve and for people to put much trust in kind of investment. Therefore I would expect that when there was any kind of appreciable success in gardening, even if it was only a small addition to the diet, it would have spread around and we would be seeing similar kinds fo evidence at other sites dating close to the same time. When and where horticulture and domesticated plants appear it does seem to spread around reasonably quickly because it was of some value and I doubt many people couold have kept that kind of secret for more than a century to two (historically, even the strongest kingdoms could only keep monopolies like that for a few decades).
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Forest_Dump on August 7th, 2015, 8:46 pm 

Considering this predates even the earliest Natufian by about 8000 or more years and the oldest dates for domesticates at places like Jericho by even more, I think there is also something suspiscious about the dating.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 7th, 2015, 9:49 pm 

Not that long ago I wrote an article about experiments with chimps showing they not only preferred cooked veggies over raw ones, but when given an oven and taught how to cook, they'd defer gratification and wait the time it took for them to collect, store, and roast their food rather than scarf it down raw right away.


Whoa, hold on a sec ... someone successfully taught a chimp to bake with an oven ? (8-O

Linkage pls.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Marshall on August 8th, 2015, 12:09 am 

Darby » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:49 pm wrote:
Not that long ago I wrote an article about experiments with chimps showing they not only preferred cooked veggies over raw ones, but when given an oven and taught how to cook, they'd defer gratification and wait the time it took for them to collect, store, and roast their food rather than scarf it down raw right away.


Whoa, hold on a sec ... someone successfully taught a chimp to bake with an oven ? (8-O

Linkage pls.


Delila's article is listed on page 9 of the index
http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/aut ... th/page/9/
of articles she has published at Science Recorder magazine.

The link to the article itself is
http://www.sciencerecorder.com/news/201 ... lled-fire/

The article was published fairly recently, 3 June 2015. It has some source links.
One of Delila's links is to http://www.livescience.com/51067-chimps ... ility.html

The Live Science article she links to mentions this:
"Rosati and Warneken wrote in their paper describing the study Tuesday (June 2) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B."

But there is no direct link to the Rosati Warneken article itself---in Proceedings B. that may be behind paywall, in fact.

The Live Science author evidently corresponded email with Rosati Warneken about their experiments and quotes their emails. It looks to me as if the experiments simulated cooking. The chimp could put raw food in a certain compartment or container and wait---the experimenter may have intervened at this point and moved the food to a REAL oven, given it a shot of heat, and then returned it to the "mock" oven.
the point is the chimp would delay gratification and put off eating the raw food in order to do something that simulated cooking it. (put it for a while in the special container or compartment and then take out the cooked food). they did many variations of this kind of experiment. It's possible at some point they introduced a real cooking device. I don't know any more details.

Maybe if we google Rosati Warneken we can find out more about this.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Fuqin on August 8th, 2015, 12:21 am 

Forrest :- Given that people at the time had little or no knowledge or experience with the kind of long range planning over hundreds or thousands of years necessary. Its pretty safe to say that we can't be sure whether they were deliberately planting or simply harvesting from patches of wild wheat, etc.

Hi forests long time no chat, interesting! It leads me to speculate as a horticulturalist and understanding patch arenas of specie type, how one might be lead to understand the propagation of certain plants, and what can be found in certain geography’s etc. have there for example been dumps of multiple edible plant species found if this is a discoverable phenomenon? O
obviously wheat is a main stay as is rice, Poaceae is going to thrive near water but there is some processing involved, early humans must surely relied on fruit and berries, is there evidence of sedentary hunter gatherers, I know this is an oxymoron of kinds, but even with herdsman I see the potential for human grappling with location and propagation, what are the earliest examples of deviation from herdsman to settlement and is it necessarily so that one produce the other?







Forrest :-
Given that people at the time had little or no knowledge or experience with the kind of long range planning over hundreds or thousands of years necessary. Its pretty safe to say that we can't be sure whether they were deliberately planting or simply harvesting from patches of wild wheat, etc.

Hi forests long time no chat, interesting! It leads me to speculate as a horticulturalist and understanding patch arenas of specie type, how one might be lead to understand the propagation of certain plants, and what can be found in certain geography’s etc. have there for example been dumps of multiple edible plant species found if this is a discoverable phenomenon? O
obviously wheat is a main stay as is rice, Poaceae is going to thrive near water but there is some processing involved, early humans must surely relied on fruit and berries, is there evidence of sedentary hunter gatherers, I know this is an oxymoron of kinds, but even with herdsman I see the potential for human grappling with location and propagation, what are the earliest examples of deviation from herdsman to settlement and is it necessarily so that one produce the other?
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Marshall on August 8th, 2015, 1:01 am 

I found the abstract in Proceedings B!
========================
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... 9/20150229
Cognitive capacities for cooking in chimpanzees

Felix Warneken, Alexandra G. Rosati
Published 3 June 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0229
ArticleFigures & DataInfo & MetricseLetters PDF
Abstract

The transition to a cooked diet represents an important shift in human ecology and evolution. Cooking requires a set of sophisticated cognitive abilities, including causal reasoning, self-control and anticipatory planning. Do humans uniquely possess the cognitive capacities needed to cook food? We address whether one of humans' closest relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), possess the domain-general cognitive skills needed to cook. Across nine studies, we show that chimpanzees: (i) prefer cooked foods; (ii) comprehend the transformation of raw food that occurs when cooking, and generalize this causal understanding to new contexts; (iii) will pay temporal costs to acquire cooked foods; (iv) are willing to actively give up possession of raw foods in order to transform them; and (v) can transport raw food as well as save their raw food in anticipation of future opportunities to cook. Together, our results indicate that several of the fundamental psychological abilities necessary to engage in cooking may have been shared with the last common ancestor of apes and humans, predating the control of fire.

Received February 1, 2015.
Accepted May 1, 2015.
© 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
View Full Text
===============

However the text seems to be behind paywall. You have to have a subscription or buy access. This is normal.
The abstract page has a table of contents:
==quote==
Article
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. General methods
3. Experiment 1: preference for cooked food
4. Experiment 2: patience when waiting for cooked food
5. Experiment 3: preference for cooking device
6. Experiment 4: will chimpanzees choose to cook their own food?
7. Experiment 5: replication
8. Experiment 6: do cooking skills generalize to other foods?
9. Experiment 7: do chimpanzees selectively cook edible items?
10. Experiment 8: will chimpanzees transport food to cook it?
11. Experiment 9: will chimpanzees save their food for future cooking?
12. General discussion
Ethics
Data accessibility
Authors' contributions
Competing interests
Funding
Acknowledgements
References
Figures & Data
Info & Metrics
PDF
eLetters
==endquote==
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Marshall on August 8th, 2015, 1:08 am 

I found Rosati Warneken OUTSIDE OF PAYWALL!!!
https://software.rc.fas.harvard.edu/lds ... 015_MS.pdf

Felix Warneken put a copy of the paper at his Harvard.edu website so people could have wider access.
This is unusually nice.

The Proceedings B article is clearly written and has a bunch of nice clear diagrams.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 8th, 2015, 1:30 am 

the point is the chimp would delay gratification and put off eating the raw food in order to do something that simulated cooking it.


Sounds very cool ... look forward to reading it.

Thanks !
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby delilalaw23 on August 8th, 2015, 1:37 am 

Just a note to say how much I'm enjoying following the discussion here. So thoughtful and thought-provoking. My background (besides law) is in the history of science, so though I'm fascinated by it--especially early human origins and development--my knowledge tends is sadly pretty superficial. It's a treat when I get a chance to see more in-depth perspectives on topics I write about!
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Fuqin on August 8th, 2015, 1:41 am 

Without looking at the article could it not be plausible that humans besides huddling around volcano’s forcing sedentary life styles during an ice age ,began cooking as a way of making food attractive?
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Fuqin on August 8th, 2015, 7:58 am 

There’s something else too but it might be unique to Australia , I once asked an aboriginal chap what he thought about the origins of cooking he frankly and simply replied’ '
"after a fire plenty of food’" Australian aboriginals would purposely set fire to bush land in ordered to regenerate plants corner prey and so on. Australian fauna is profoundly reliant on fire for regeneration, something the aboriginals must have been aware of , and so you have it at least for oz
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 8th, 2015, 9:19 am 

Fuqin » August 8th, 2015, 1:41 am wrote:Without looking at the article could it not be plausible that humans besides huddling around volcano’s forcing sedentary life styles during an ice age ,began cooking as a way of making food attractive?


Ah, now food is something I can speak to. Not so much attractive, but to preserve it and improve edibility.

Some points to consider, in no particular order:

* At the time (stone age), it was easy to observe that small dead things that lay in direct hot sun dry out faster than larger dead things with a heavier mass of wet flesh, and also that dry things do not spoil/decompose (or become otherwise inedible to humans) as quickly as wet things.

* It was also easy to observe that moderate proximity to fire has a drying effect similar to that of bright hot sunlight, and that closer proximity increases the effect to the point of charring/cooking, and thus could be used to accomplish the same effect that the sun does, even in overcast/rainy weather when things do not normally dry ... and far more quickly and strongly. Concentrated goodness of the Sun !

* In the stoneage, life expectancy was perilously short ... probably late 20's early 30's was typical, and anyone living into their 40's/50's and developing grey hair was a rarity. There was little or nothing of dentistry to speak of (aside from knocking out agonizingly abcessed teeth with a bone and a rock hammer), and as you got older (and your teeth weaker) it became increasingly hard to subsist on coarse/raw/tough/uncut foods ... so you learned to pound tough food between hard things or have younger people with strong teeth pre-chew them for oldsters, or to use fire to soften/cook tough strips of things to make them not just longer lasting, but easier to chew for everyone, less likely to cause sickness, and (unexpected boon) taste better ... and not just meat, but starchy roots (which became softer and sweeter and less likely to cause gastric upset).

It's a natural and obvious progression to the practices of using fire not just for warmth, light and keeping away predators, but also hardening spears, for drying/smoking meat strips on racks, cooking tubers in hot ashes, and fresh meat on sticks closer to the flame. Fire was a wonderful tool that became essential to human survival, and was one of the pillars upon which civilization grew.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby vivian maxine on August 8th, 2015, 12:36 pm 

Marshall » August 8th, 2015, 12:01 am wrote:I found the abstract in Proceedings B!
========================
http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/ ... 9/20150229
Cognitive capacities for cooking in chimpanzees

Felix Warneken, Alexandra G. Rosati
Published 3 June 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0229
ArticleFigures & DataInfo & MetricseLetters PDF
Abstract

The transition to a cooked diet represents an important shift in human ecology and evolution. Cooking requires a set of sophisticated cognitive abilities, including causal reasoning, self-control and anticipatory planning. Do humans uniquely possess the cognitive capacities needed to cook food? We address whether one of humans' closest relatives, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), possess the domain-general cognitive skills needed to cook. Across nine studies, we show that chimpanzees: (i) prefer cooked foods; (ii) comprehend the transformation of raw food that occurs when cooking, and generalize this causal understanding to new contexts; (iii) will pay temporal costs to acquire cooked foods; (iv) are willing to actively give up possession of raw foods in order to transform them; and (v) can transport raw food as well as save their raw food in anticipation of future opportunities to cook. Together, our results indicate that several of the fundamental psychological abilities necessary to engage in cooking may have been shared with the last common ancestor of apes and humans, predating the control of fire.

Received February 1, 2015.
Accepted May 1, 2015.
© 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
View Full Text
===============

However the text seems to be behind paywall. You have to have a subscription or buy access. This is normal.
The abstract page has a table of contents:
==quote==
Article
Abstract
1. Introduction
2. General methods
3. Experiment 1: preference for cooked food
4. Experiment 2: patience when waiting for cooked food
5. Experiment 3: preference for cooking device
6. Experiment 4: will chimpanzees choose to cook their own food?
7. Experiment 5: replication
8. Experiment 6: do cooking skills generalize to other foods?
9. Experiment 7: do chimpanzees selectively cook edible items?
10. Experiment 8: will chimpanzees transport food to cook it?
11. Experiment 9: will chimpanzees save their food for future cooking?
12. General discussion
Ethics
Data accessibility
Authors' contributions
Competing interests
Funding
Acknowledgements
References
Figures & Data
Info & Metrics
PDF
eLetters
==endquote==


I am pondering that "psychological abilities necessary to share in cooking". I understand psychological desire to share but not psychological abilities. I may be off here. I prefer cooked food. I have the psychological ability to share in the cooking. But I have no psychological desire to do so. I'll set your table and wash your dishes but you cook.

If that sounds a bit silly (although true), I'd suspect the chimpanzee, like my cat and your dog will wait for you to fetch him/her cooked food. No kibbles, please.

Sorry if I'm being a cynic but this fits right in with the assumption that bog men were sacrificial victims to someone's gods. There is a lot of guesswork that goes into "what have we here?" finds.

Before I go, Marshall, let me stress that by "you" and "yours", I am not referring to you. I understand that you are posting a report from someone else. The "you" and "your" is general.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Marshall on August 8th, 2015, 12:57 pm 

Marshall » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:08 pm wrote:I found Rosati Warneken OUTSIDE OF PAYWALL!!!
https://software.rc.fas.harvard.edu/lds ... 015_MS.pdf

Felix Warneken put a copy of the paper at his Harvard.edu website so people could have wider access.
This is unusually nice.

The Proceedings B article is clearly written and has a bunch of nice clear diagrams.


Vivian the thing to do, if you want to give Alexandra Rosati and Felix Warneken a fair reading, is to read their actual article. It is clearly written, well organized, and has numerous helpful diagrams.
Skepticism is good, but it is better if grounded on direct familiarity rather than hearsay.

It took me a while to find that online version of the article that is openly accessible outside the paywall.

For reference, here's the last sentence of the abstract summary:
"Together, our results indicate that several of the fundamental psychological abilities necessary to engage in cooking may have been shared with the last common ancestor of apes and humans, predating the control of fire."
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Paralith on August 8th, 2015, 1:06 pm 

Darby wrote:* In the stoneage, life expectancy was perilously short ... probably late 20's early 30's was typical, and anyone living into their 40's/50's and developing grey hair was a rarity.


Sorry, but this is most likely not true. The problem with looking at "average" human lifespan is one that has a lot of confusion around it. Here's something I wrote in a previous thread about it:

Paralith wrote:Let's say we take a sample of ten people born five hundred years ago, and ten people born today. Let's say their ages at death are this:

born five hundred years ago: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 55, 78, 80, 81, 85
born today: 1, 55, 55, 78, 78, 80, 80, 81, 85, 85

Now. If you take the average age at death for the sample of people who were born five hundred years ago, what do you get? 38. For the people born today? 67. Yet in both samples you have people who lived to 85 and no one who lived past 85.

This is the difficulty of looking at average human lifespans. Back in the day, many many MANY babies died before even reaching age five. With their ill developed immune systems and tiny bodies susceptible to dehydration, bad hygiene and the lack of modern medicine made it a rough time for the little ones. An average that includes all people ever born will be dragged very low by high rates of infant death. We can say with certainty that in modern times infant death rates have been significantly lowered by increased hygiene and modern medical care, allowing the average lifespan to crawl upwards even without any noticeable change in the oldest ages humans are living to. Though we can also say with certainty that we are pushing ages at death older in recent decades, thanks to advances against diseases like cancer that effect the elderly. But to illustrate this with another hypothetical data set of ten people: 1, 80, 80, 80, 81, 81, 81, 85, 85, 85.

A distinct question is, what is the evolved human lifespan? What is the maximum lifespan possible given what our bodies have evolved to do in terms of growth and maintenance? And has that changed? This is a harder question to answer. Looking at the extreme outliers in human ages at death, it looks like it's not possible for humans to live past 120. Chances are this evolved physiological human characteristic has not changed, and will not until we acquire the knowledge and technology required to change ourselves at the genetic level.


I haven't much time this morning, but if you look up a paper by Hillard Kaplan and Michael Gurven, you will see that hunter gatherers living traditional lifestyles can in fact expect as much as 25% of all people ever born to make it into their seventh decade. When I have a chance later I'll provide the paper itself. It is simply not true that humans could once bless their lucky stars if they made it into their 40's.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby vivian maxine on August 8th, 2015, 1:23 pm 

You are right, Marshall. That little guilty conscience voice nagged me all along. No excuses except that I've seen chimps in action. I've seen them demanding their food from the caretaker "now!". Do they really have any patience to sit and wait for something to cook? Also, "pre-dating the control of fire"? Sounds like they might have found fire victims and learned from that. Are they mean enough to toss in more victims?

More cynicism in action. I'll read the article. Just having all these random thoughts now.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Darby on August 8th, 2015, 5:09 pm 

I haven't much time this morning, but if you look up a paper by Hillard Kaplan and Michael Gurven, you will see that hunter gatherers living traditional lifestyles can in fact expect as much as 25% of all people ever born to make it into their seventh decade. When I have a chance later I'll provide the paper itself. It is simply not true that humans could once bless their lucky stars if they made it into their 40's.


You're stating an opinion and citing one paper ... I'd need a lot more than that to sway me on typical survival ages for the stone age. I'll do some reading on my own as time and interest permits, but in the meantime I'll stick with what I already opined on the subject.

Oh, and I clearly also said 40's & 50's, not just 40's.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby CanadysPeak on August 8th, 2015, 6:57 pm 

Darby, you can't average multimodal data. Well, you can - people do it all the time - but there's no meaning if you do. In the case of life expectancy comparisons, you have to filter out all but one of the modes and then (try to) compare those across the centuries. People who sell those "guaranteed" life insurance policies to seniors, with "no health exam required" play this game every day and get rich at it; in short, if you're alive right now, chances are you're gonna live quite a few more years.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Paralith on August 9th, 2015, 12:55 pm 

Darby,

I think I'll start another thread on the topic, which is something I've been wanting to do for a while, considering how often this issue comes up. The paper I referenced, whose full text I have attached to this post, is a review and analysis of multiple demographic data sets from different hunter gatherer groups, both those living a traditional lifestyle and acculturated, and horticulturalist groups from around the world. They also include a sample from Sweden in the mid 1700's and wild chimpanzees for further comparison. Yes, it is one paper, but sometimes single papers can provide compelling cases, if one chooses to actually look at them.

These are, of course, people living today, save for the Swedish historical sample, and I am happy to admit that modern hunter gatherers are certainly not biological and cultural clones of Stone Age people. But there are multiple reasons to seriously consider the data that they provide. For one, these authors are among the many who look at cross cultural samples of hunter gatherers to try and distill the primary characteristics of the foraging and foraging/gardening (=horticulturalist) subsistence lifestyle and what general limits it imposes on human behavior and biology. For another, we also know that agricultural societies have long been pushing foraging societies into more and more marginal territory, into lands less desirable and fertile. Those foraging groups that survive today are probably living in even harsher conditions than many groups did prior to the advent of agriculture.

The paper also discusses the existing literature on paleodemographic models based on archeaological and fossil data, including many references to that literature as well we more recent studies that are beginning to paint a different picture than the one traditionally held for many years.

At the very least, these data taken all together throw doubt on how sure we can be that few humans ever made it into their fifties in the Stone Age.
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Gurven and Kaplan - 2007 - Longevity Among Hunter-Gatherers A Cross-Cultural.pdf
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on August 9th, 2015, 1:07 pm 

I look forward to if there is a whole new thread on this topic. I think it's one of the most important areas of research to humanity. That is, determining our past so as to have a better (healthier!) future. It will take me some time to find the focus (esp. since neighbors prevented me from getting a good night sleep again), but I look forward to reading that paper as well.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby Braininvat on August 9th, 2015, 1:14 pm 

I saw a paper years ago that had findings from skeletal analysis suggesting that paleolithic peoples in Europe, if they survived the rigors of childhood, often made it into their 60s and even to 70. I will post, if I can retrieve it.
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Re: Agriculture began 23,000 years ago

Postby zetreque on August 9th, 2015, 2:32 pm 

Reading through it. I am curious how they determined age. As far as I know there is no test to determine a persons age with any real accuracy and I doubt they were able to stick around for 70 years to actually count how old they were.

The article says this.
The designation of high-quality data means that age estimation is reasonably accurate
and there is no systematic bias in the underreporting of deaths. Most importantly,
survivorship and mortality profiles for these populations are based on
actual deaths from prospective or retrospective studies, and not on model life
tables fitted to scanty data or census data.


It is taking me a while to understand this, but it is good how they are looking at percent population that live to certain ages, averages, and modes.
" The modal age of adult death is about seven decades"

Because average life span is much lower than the mode, it might implicate and further support that we owe our current population explosion and rising average life span to much lower infant mortality (medicine and hospitals) and life span has not changed all that much.

Ok I think that's all I can take for the moment. Will continue reading later.
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