An Overview of The Hunting and Gathering Mode of Production

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About this sample


Words: 936 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jul 7, 2022

Words: 936|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jul 7, 2022

“Until about 12,000 to 11,000 years ago, when agriculture and animal domestication emerged in southwest Asia and in Mesoamerica, all peoples were hunters and gatherers. Their strategies have been very diverse, depending greatly upon the local environment; foraging strategies have included hunting or trapping big game, hunting or trapping smaller animals, fishing, gathering shellfish or insects, and gathering wild plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, tubers, seeds, and nuts. Most hunters and gatherers combine a variety of these strategies in order to ensure a balanced diet.” The hunting and gathering way of life was also called foraging culture, any set of people that rely essentially on wild foods for maintenance. 

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“Early Holocene communities gathered plant food with stone reaping knives or dug up tubers with digging sticks, and hunted with spears and bows. Like their Paleolithic predecessors, they exploited resources by moving around their landscapes, generally in small groups, occasionally coming together at annual salmon runs or similar places of abundant resources.” Majority of Holocene hunter-gatherer societies are defined by flexibility, and they were small scale in nature.

The transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture was a major shift in human adaptation. The population became increasingly sedentary, in territories with connections with a variety and plethora of resources, which replaced the mobility associated with most hunter-gatherer groups.

“Domestication is a biological process that involves changes in the genotypes and physical characteristics of plants and animals as they become dependent on human for reproductive success. Domestication may often be unintentional, resulting from continuing interaction between human and wild species. Domestication began as a result of hunter-gatherers shifting from the unintentional collection of plants to the voluntary management of specific plant species. The conversion from food collection to food production definitely increased the earth’s ability to support a much larger population.

Also another biological implication of was cultivation. Scarre defines cultivation as a phenomenon that involves intentionally preparing fields, sowing harvesting and storing seeds or other plants. This required substantial development in human technology, subsistence and perspectives. Hunter- gatherers were more than laid back onlookers in the history of plant and animal use, they also altered they species on which they relied.

“An important trait to the development and spread of human societies as well as their ability to interact with their surroundings was 'the adoption of technological means to overcome difficulties imposed by hostile environments.'4 Stone tools, wooden spears, bolas stones, wood, skins, and fire allowed these groups to adopt a mobile existence and move into harsher ecosystems. Technology was particularly important in increasing humans' ability to hunt. Specifically, the bow and arrow along with snares, traps, and nets made hunting less time consuming and more effective. Inevitably, hunting and gathering 'groups had, over hundreds of thousands of years, adapted to every possible environment in the world from the semi-tropical areas of Africa to ice-age Europe, from the Arctic to the deserts of South-West Africa.

During the process of domestication and cultivation the environment was remodelled, most open space allowed way for fields, while forests were cut down to provide farmland for the increasing population. “However, the major impact humans had on the environment came through hunting. With their technological advancements, hunter-gatherers were able to over-hunt many species. Many of these groups concentrated their hunting to a particular species that often lead to its extinction. Humans were responsible for the disappearance of many large flightless birds and other mega faunal animals on every continent. Even in areas that were unaffected by the constantly shifting climates such as Australia over the last 100,000 years, 'destroying habitats or killing the smaller herbivores on which the carnivores depended could easily lead to extinction

Hunter-gatherers adapted to every type of environment they populated. Relying on mobility, they made notable changes to their environment. Their relationship with nature was affected by agriculture.

The hunting and gathering mode of production also led to social complexity, as the communities were increasing in size. Kinship was an important characteristic of these societies. But authority, status and possessions became more antagonistic. The diversity in social status may be illustrated by goods placed with the death or the quantity and quality of objects in a household. Prominent goods play a significant role in indicating and building social distinctions. Such goods included exotic stones, shells or ornaments.

“Social distinctions became increasingly institutionalized, as status that may have been first based on individual achievement (e.g. Personal prowess as a hunter or war leader) became transferred to particular lineages or families.

Sedentism allowed for the build-up of material goods, and also pottery. Many of these goods were made to be worn or to bear all over the body; such as bracelets, necklaces. This created an increasingly fabricated world in which people reside, which influence social diversity and differences.

“Additionally, the increase in the population due to agriculture led to a continuous growth in war. Warfare is certainly unknown among the hunter-gatherers, for it is depicted in Australian rock art (Tacon and Chippindaale 1944); but larger and more closely packed farming settlements placed new pressure on inter – community relations. The investments of labour in fields and houses that could be raided and seized, along with food stores and increasing number of values, all encouraged the trend towards group organized violence.

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The Hunting and gathering mode of production was a stepping stone for civilization and the development and states and cities. Therefore it is a significant era in human history.


  1. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. 'Hunting and Gathering Culture.' Encyclopædia Britannica. December 28, 2017. Accessed November 19, 2018.
  2. Scarre, Christopher. The Human Past: World Prehistory & the Development of Human Societies: With 788 Illustrations, 296 in Colour. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2013. Pg. 134
  3. Ponting, Clive. A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. New York: St. Martin's Press. 1992.
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An Overview of the Hunting And Gathering Mode Of Production. (2022, July 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
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