Horticultural and Pastoral Societies
The period between 13.000 and 7.000 R.C.E. marks the beginning of horticultural and pastoral societies. During this period. there was a gradual shift.from collecting food to producing food, a change that has been attributed to three factors: (I) the depletion of the supply of large game animals as a source of food. (2) an increase in the size of the human population to feed. and (3) dramatic weather and environmental changes that probably occurred by the end of the Ice Age (Ferraro, 1992).
Why did some societies become horticultural while others became pastoral? Whether horticultural activities or pastoral activities became a society's primary mode of food production w~ related to water supply, terrain. and soils. Pastoral societies are based on technology that supports the domestication of large animals to provide food and emerged in mountainous regions and areas with low amounts of annual rainfall. Pastoral-people in pastoral societies-typically remain nomadic as they seek new grazing lands and water sources for their animals. Horticultural societies are based on technology that supports the cultivation of plants to provide food. These societies emerged in more fertile areas that were better suited for growing plants through the use of hand tools. The family is the basic unit in horticultural and pastoral societies. Because they typically do not move as often as hunter-gatherers or pastorals, horticulturalists establish more permanent family ties and create complex systems for tracing family lineage. Some social analysts believe that the invention of a hoe with a
metal blade was a contributing factor to the less nomadic lifestyle of the horticulturalists, Unlike the digging stick, use of the metal-blade hoe made planting more efficient and productive. Horticulturists using a hoe are able to cultivate the soil more deeply.and crops can be grown in the same area for longer periods, AI. a result, people become more sedentary; remaining settled for longer periods in the same location.
Unless there au fires. floods, droughts. or environmental problems. herding animals and farming are more reliable sources of food than hunting and gathering. When food is no longer in short supply. more infants are born. and children have a greater likelihood of surviving. When people are no longer nomadic. children are viewed as an economic asset: They can cultivate crops, tend flocks. or care for younger Siblings. Division of labor increases in horticultural and pastoral societies, As the food supply grows. not everyone needs to bl engaged in food production. Some people CO in pursue activities such as weaving cloth or carpets. crafting jewelry. serving as priests. or creating the tools needed for building the society's structure.
Horticultural and pastoral societies are less egalitarian than hunter-gatherers. Even though land is initiallycommunally controlled (often through an extended kinship group).) the idea of property rights emerges as people establish more-permanent settlements. At this stage. families with the largest surpluses not only have an economic advantage but also gain prestige and power. including the ability to control others. Slavery is a fairly common practice. and being a slave is a hereditary status in some pastoral societies. In simple horticultural societies. a fairly high degree of gender equality exists because neither sex controls the food supply. Women contribute to food production because hoe cultivation is compatible with child care (Basow, 1992). Tncontemporary horticultural societies. women still do most-of the farming while men hunt game. dear land, work 'with arts and crafts, make tools. participate in religious and ceremonial activities. and engage in war (Nielsen. 1990). Gender inequality is greater in pastoral societies because men herd the large animals and women contribute relatively little to subsistence production. Tn some herding societies. women's primary value is seen as their ability to produce male offspring so that the family lineage can be preserved and a sufficient number of males are available to protect the group against enemy attack (Nielsen. 1990).
Education. religion. and politics remain relatively informal in horticultural and pastoral societies. Boys learn how to plant and harvest crops. domesticate large animals. and fight. Girls learn how to do domestic chores. care for younger children. and. sometimes. cultivate the land In horticultural societies, religion is based on ancestor worship; in pastoral societies. religion is based on belief in a god or gods. who are believed to take an active role in human affairs. Politics is based on a simple form of government that is backed up by military force.