Hunter-gatherers persisted till 5,000 years ago (and are still around today)

A new paper suggests that in Europe “the hunter-gatherers’ lifestyle only died out in Central Europe 5,000 years ago. Agriculture and animal husbandry became the way of life from then on. However, some of the prehistoric farmers had foragers as ancestors, and the, hunter-gatherer genes are found in Central Europeans today”.

Ruth Bollongino, Olaf Nehlich, Michael P. Richards, Jörg Orschiedt, Mark G. Thomas, Christian Sell, Zuzana Fajkošová, Adam Powell, and Joachim Burger2000 Years of Parallel Societies in Stone Age Central Europe. Science, 10 October 2013 DOI: 10.1126/science.1245049

But while it is perfectly plausible that some hunter-gatherers were still around some 5,000 years ago it seems quite wrong to me to assume as the authors do that “Until around 7,500 years ago all central Europeans were hunter-gatherers”. Settlements in Europe came long before that and probably earlier than 30,000 years ago. I take permanent or semi-permanent settlements to be evidence of a lifestyle which had departed from being a purely hunter.gatherer lifestyle. Neanderthal settlements came even earlier. A nomadic lifestyle with temporary settlements had already appeared by then. “Herding” and hunting of reindeer for example dates back to about 45,000 years ago (probably Neanderthal). But the evidence that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle persisted for a long time is plausible and fairly obvious and there are still tribes existing in pockets today.

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ( Press Release A team led by Mainz anthropologist Professor Joachim Burger studied bones from the ‘Blätterhöhle’ cave near Hagen in Germany, where both hunter-gatherers and farmers were buried. “It is commonly assumed that the Central European hunter-gatherers disappeared soon after the arrival of farmers”, said Dr. Ruth Bollongino, lead author of the study. “But our study shows that the descendants of Mesolithic Europeans maintained their hunter-gatherer way of life and lived in parallel with the immigrant farmers, for at least 2,000 years. The hunter-gathering lifestyle thus only died out in Central Europe around 5,000 years ago, much later than previously thought.”which could be called hunter-gatherers: …

Isolated pockets of hunter-gatherers can still be found today:

  1. Kalahari Persistence Hunters
  2. Pirahã of the Maici River in the Amazon
  3. The Batak of Northern Palawan in Western Philippines
  4. Spinifex of the Great Victoria Desert
  5. Sentinelese of the Andaman Islands

About ktwop

Scientist, technologist, salesman, manager, executive and now a consultant and author.
This entry was posted in Agriculture, AMH, Ancestors, Hunter-gatherer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Hunter-gatherers persisted till 5,000 years ago (and are still around today)

  1. Pingback: The peopling of Europe by waves of migration into melting pots of genes | 6,000 Generations

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