Living Close To The Bone – A Day In The Life Of A Hunter-Gatherer

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A hunter returning with his kill (fotogurmespb / Adobe Stock)

Living Close To The Bone – A Day In The Life Of A Hunter-Gatherer

At the beginning of Herodotus’ Histories, the Athenian lawgiver Solon, one of the seven sages of ancient Greece, points out to his interlocutor Croesus, King of Lydia, that if a person lives to be 70, they will experience 26,250 days – by his reckoning the length of a year is 375 days – and that not any two days will be alike. Solon’s observation is worth bearing in mind when trying to imagine the life of an average hunter-gatherer because the chances are that each day was very similar both to the one preceding and to the one following. To be sure, the constant threat of being eaten by a predator would have alleviated any boredom hunter-gatherers might have experienced, while they also had to be alert to changes in the weather, since an ice storm, say, or a fog could cause havoc. But most days would have been dominated by the endless search for food.

This is the period when hominins – that is to say, all the extinct human species who preceded and including the current homo sapiens– first separated off from gorillas, orangutans, and chimps, perhaps five million years ago. From then until around 8000 BC hunter-gathering was the dominant lifestyle for all hominins. After that date, homo sapiens, the lone surviving species, gradually began to adapt to a sedentary lifestyle by establishing communities and ceasing to lead a nomadic existence.

Hunter-gatherers harnessing fire (Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock)

Hunter-gatherers harnessing fire (Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock)


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