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Last Hunters, First Farmers

New Perspectives on the Prehistoric Transition to Agriculture

Edited by T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgitte Gebauer

During virtually the entire four-million-year history of our habitation on this planet, humans have been hunters and gatherers, dependent for nourishment on the availability of wild plants and animals. Beginning about 10,000 years ago, however, the most remarkable phenomenon in the course of human prehistory was set in motion. At locations around the world, over a period of about 5000 years, hunters became farmers. The implications of this revolution in human activity and social organization reverberate down to the present day.

In case studies ranging from the Far East to the American Southwest, the authors of Last Hunters, First Farmers provide a global perspective on contemporary research into the origins of agriculture. Downplaying more traditional explanations of the turn to agriculture, such as the influence of marginal environments and population pressures, the authors emphasize instead the importance of the resource-rich areas in which agriculture began, the complex social organizations already in place, the role of sedentism, and, in some locales, the advent of economic intensification and competition.

1996. 372 pp., 37 black-and-white illustrations, 18 tables, notes, references, and index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Oser Bar-Yosef, Anne Birgitte Gebauer, Brian Hayden, Charles Higham, Lawrence H. Keeley, Richard H. Meadow, Deborah M. Pearsall, T. Douglas Price, Bruce D. Smith, Patty Jo Watson, W. H. Wills

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“Stands out as one of the most valuable multi-authored contributions, both methodically and substantively, to have appeared for many years.”
—Journal of Field Archaeology


  1. New Perspectives on the Transition to Agriculture
    T. Douglas Price and Anne Birgitte Gebauer
  2. Explaning the Transition to Agriculture
    Patty Jo Watson
  3. The Origins of Agriculture in the Near East
    Ofer Bar-Yosef and Richard H. Meadow
  4. The Spread of Farming into Europe North of the Alps
    T. Douglas Price, Anne Birgitte Gebauer, and Lawrence H. Keeley
  5. The Transition of Rice Cultivation in Southeast Asia
    Charles Higham
  6. Domestication and Agriculture in the New World Tropics
    Deborah M. Pearsall
  7. Seed Plant Domestication in Eastern North America
    Bruce D. Smith
  8. Archaic Foraging and the Beginning of Food Production in the American Southwest
    W.H. Wills
  9. Protoagricultural Practices among Hunter-Gathers: A Cross-Cultural Survey
    Lawrence E. Keeley
  10. A New Overview of Domestication
    Brian Hayden

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.