Archaic Human Diets

Session Date: 
Dec 7, 2012

What is the legacy of the human ecological footprint in deep time, and how might this legacy relate to the evolution of human social and energy networks? At least three major transitions can be seen from the archaeological record of meat-eating. The first of these transitions of interest was the development of hominins as big game hunters by roughly 500,000 years ago, followed by diversification of the meat diet and new patterns of labor collaboration sometime between 100-50,000 years ago. At the end of the Pleistocene, between 11-10,000 years ago, we see a rather sudden substitution of a broad spectrum diet for intensive, managed use of just a few prey species. Each of these transitions came with new labor and social arrangements that extended well beyond the mechanics of hunting. The transitions also relate to major changes in environmental carrying capacity and human population densities. These changes are predicated on new ways of capturing energy and insulating the group (especially children) from variation in the supplies of high quality food.

File 2012_12_07_09_Stiner.mp4100.24 MB