Diet and Subsistence

The procurement of food is one of the most basic and necessary human activities. For years, archaeologists have investigated the ways in which human beings acquired the necessary nourishment for survival.

Subsistence may be obtained by utilizing the wild plants and animals of a region, or by subsequent manipulation of wild foodstuffs via domestication.

Subsistence practices are also constrained by a particular environment. Rainfall, temperature, and altitude all play a role in the types of plants and animals available in a given area. For example, growing cereal crops is highly dependent on adequate rainfall and is not possible in areas where rainfall is too low. The level of human populations in a given area can also influence subsistence patterns. Very large populations may not be able to sustain everyone on a diet of wild foodstuffs because of their availability and distribution. Cultural beliefs against eating certain foodstuffs may also influence subsistence regardless of the environment.

For over 4 million years, our species followed animals across the landscape and and consumed the products of the earth. Around 10,000 years ago, things started to change. Hunter-gatherers still thrived, and still do, but human beings started to engage in subsistence strategies not ever before seen.


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