Agriculture Didn’t Plow Under the Hunters
By Robert Dello-Russo
In, "The Planet of No Return," Erle Ellis contends that "hunting-and-gathering was not displaced for lack of wild animals and foods, but due to the superiority of agriculture."
I disagree. Ellis's view of the rise of agriculture is a classic myth that has been propagated by non-archaeologists for generations -- the "better mousetrap" theory of agriculture. My own archaeological research suggests the opposite.
Take the commitment to agriculture in North America. We have good evidence that maize arrived in the American Southwest about 3,800 years ago. Yet, in the archaeological record, we do not see the sustained development of maize-based communities until about 1,500 years ago. If agriculture was so much better than hunting-and-gathering (H&G), what was everybody doing in the intervening 2,300 years?