Hallowe€en Special.

John Waters (jdwaters@dircon.co.uk)
31 Oct 1996 17:35:53 GMT

Trick or Treat? That is the question.

Here€s another one. Does anybody know how nomadic farming
started? I have a macabre hypothesis which could explain
this. The hypothesis goes as follows:

About 50 Kya H. neanderthal started burying their dead in
caves. It is hypothesised that this practice was adopted by
H.s.s. This species of hominid occupied a cold temperate
niche. Initially, the burials took place in caves. But when
the species
colonised lowland regions, this became impractical; and the
dead were buried in shallow graves in alluvial flood

In common with most large animals, H.s.s migrated towards
the equator in the winter time, and towards the poles in
the summer. As a result, the burials of important chiefs
could take place anywhere along the migration trail.

It is hypothesised that the species buried clothing,
ornaments, food and drink with the body. The food would
consist of the best fruits, nuts, grain, or tubers
available. In due course, the nuts, grain or tubers would
germinate and grow at the burial site.
There would be a certain amount of cross fertilisation
among these plants.

If an important chief died every twenty years, then each
millennium would yield fifty burials. Furthermore, if the
migratory trail was two hundred miles long, and the burial
sites were located every twenty miles, then each burial
site would contain
five graves per millennium.

If the nomads wanted the best nuts, fruit, grain or tubers
to be buried with their chiefs, it is likely that they
would make their collections from the other burial sites --
as this is where the best food would be found. This would
lead to more and more cross-fertilisation of the best nuts,
grain and tubers etc. After fifty thousand years, the cross
fertilisations could yield some super yielding varieties of
nuts, rice, grain or tubers. These could enable full time
arable farming.

Eventually, the tribes would realise the advantages of
large scale sowing, without any need for a burial; and this
would lead to nomadic farming. If H.s.s migrated to the
Middle East, China and America at about the same time, this
could explain why the development of wheat, rice and
potatoes all reached a high productive potential at the
same time. Knowledge of farming techniques is not enough to
start farming. The farmer must have suitable crops to plant
and harvest.

As I say, it€s a pretty macabre hypothesis. It is dependent
upon there being open site burials by H.s.s. between 7 and
50 Kya.

Is there any evidence of such burials (between 7 and 50
kya), in America, China or the Middle East?


John Waters

John Waters is the author of "Helpless as a Baby",
a book concerned with general and human
evolution. It may be accessed at URL