Cover image for Neanderthals, bandits and farmers : how agriculture really began
Neanderthals, bandits and farmers : how agriculture really began
Tudge, Colin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
53 pages ; 19 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, c1998.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library GN799.A4 T83 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Tradition has it that agriculture began in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago, that once people realized the advantages of farming, it spread rapidly to the furthest outposts of the world, and that this led to the Neolithic Revolution and the end of the hunting-gathering lifestyle. In this book Colin Tudge argues that agriculture in some form was in the repertoire of our ancestors for thousands of years before the Neolithic farming revolution: people did not suddenly invent forced into it over a long period. What we see in the Neolithic Revolution is not the beginning of agriculture on a large scale, in one place, with refined tools.Drawing on a wide range of evidence from fossil records to the Bible, Tudge offers a persuasive hypothesis about a puzzling epoch in our past. In so doing, he provides new insights into the Pleistocene overkill, the demise of the Neanderthals, the location of the biblical Eden, and much more. Copyright © Libri GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author Notes

Colin Tudge is one of Britain's leading science writers. A research fellow at the Centre for Philosophy at the London School of Economics, he is the author of, most recently, "The Second Creation" (FSG, 2000) with Ian Wilmut & Keith Campbell.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Some publishers seek out controversy; others have it visited upon them. Yale (and Weidenfeld & Nicolson, who published these brief volumes in Great Britain last year) falls into the first category. Its Darwinism Today series, which grew out of a series of seminars on evolution at the London School of Economics, is sure to generate heat as well as light. The social science entries may be the most heat producing. Browne, a Wayne State University law professor, applies evolutionary theory to explain the "glass ceiling" and the "gender gap" in earnings. Browne's evolutionary explanations for personality and behaviors rely heavily on economic concepts (e.g., the "investment" of men and women at home and at work) in ways that may make some readers apoplectic. Daly and Wilson, psychology professors at Ontario's McMaster University, examine evolutionary and epidemiological data about how stepparents (humans and other species) treat the children they acquire through marriage/mating. The authors have addressed this subject elsewhere; this volume includes critiques of social scientists who have challenged their conclusion that stepparents are disproportionately likely to abuse or neglect their spouses' children. Smith, an emeritus biology professor at the University of Sussex, describes recent achievements in understanding developmental biology, emphasizing the link between the developmental process (in which genes shape the creation of an individual organism) and the evolutionary process (in which natural selection explains how the information necessary to create such individuals is incorporated in the genome). But Smith urges that dynamic processes also play a vital role in development, that genetic control does not operate in a vacuum. Tudge, a Center for Philosophy research fellow at the London School of Economics, shifts attention to anthropology, challenging the standard explanation of the Neolithic revolution, when hunter-gatherers dropped their weapons and became farmers. Tudge argues that elements of agriculture were common by the late Paleolithic era, and that viewing the people of this period as "proto-farmers" may help explain such events as the Pleistocene overkill and the end of the Neanderthals. "People did not invent agriculture and shout for joy," Tudge declares; "they drifted or were forced into it, protesting all the way." These first Darwinism Today volumes make recent research available to a wide audience. They include few notes and brief biographies; their style is accessible, though some may be too demanding for the average high-school student. Because they take an aggressive position on the capacity of evolutionary theory to explain a wide range of human behavior, libraries will want to ensure that competing positions on these issues are represented appropriately on their shelves. --Mary Carroll

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1 The Several Faces of Agriculturep. 5
2 The End of the Neanderthals and the Pleistocene Overkillp. 17
3 The Neolithic Revolutionp. 29
Conclusionp. 49
References and Acknowledgementsp. 51

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