the fruit tree theory of the origins of agriculture:

this is the reigning paradigm here at home at the moment.

i’ve always had a hard time imagining why a bunch of hunter-gatherers would suddenly think: “i know! let’s settle down here and plant some flax seeds!”

-??-

but i can much more easily picture bunches of hunter-gatherers wandering around the fertile crescent (or wherever) — probably mainting territories — and especially defending spots where there were groves of fruit trees (figs, date palms).

all sort of animals, including other primates, defend fruit trees. and why wouldn’t you?! it’s a delicious, nutrious, rich food source:

if i, as a hunter-gatherer, came across a bunch of date palms, i’d probably plant myself next to them to make sure to collect the fruit for me and my family (like these folks are doing) …

… and then maybe i’d think about planting some grain seeds nearby, since i’d be hanging around the neighborhood for a while anyway.

i guess this is a sorta variation on the old oasis theory to explain the start of agriculture, although you don’t need the drying climate part of that theory. presumably somebody has already thought of this fruit tree idea.

(note: comments do not require an email. keep your hands off the fruit!)

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