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Fellow (1 February 1999 - 30 June 1999)
My fellowship was for the second semester of 1998/99. My project was to begin the work of drafting a book on the origins of agriculture, world wide. As well as being large in scope, the topic also has to be approached with an inter disciplinary methodology, combining, for example, the insights of anthropology based social archaeology on the differences between hunting and farming societies, the contributions of archaeological science (the analysis of artefacts, animal bones, plant remains, human bones and environmental indicators), linguistic models of language origins, and molecular biology (ancient and modern DNA of humans, plants, and animals).
Although I have conducted relevant field research in a number of countries, and had a broad general grasp of the literature, I had to undertake most of the primary research during my fellowship, as well as embark on the writing. I have made far better progress than I dared hope for before I came to NIAS, having drafted seven of the projected ten chapters and almost completed the eighth.The book argues that the shift from foraging to farming represented a profound transformation in how humans saw their world, and the place of themselves, animals and plants within it, a process that begin with the emergence of anatomically modern humans. Shifting from foraging to agriculture was as much about domesticating the human mind as managing plants and animals in new ways.
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