June 18, 2011

Did agriculture worsen life conditions?

This is the thesis proposed by Amanda Mummert and colleagues: that Neolithic was not so good, or rather that it had at least very poor trade-offs. We tend to think having regular sources of food as something good but when that means eating mostly one or two vegetable foods all year long it may well be a problem.

Whatever the reason what Mummert discovered is that the health and size of Europeans  suffered with the introduction of farming. 

Source: Science Daily

Incidentally a couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the Wikipedia page on life expectancy and I noticed that same pattern in the list of documented life expectancy variation over time: the record before the Middle Ages was in the Paleolithic period, when newborns could expect to live 33 years. Then, with Neolithic, it fell to a mere 20 years, recovering only very slowly.


  1. Dienkes' notion that some of the stature and robustness difference could reflect population replacement rather than dietary conditions shouldn't be dismissed out of hands, although the two are not necessarily exclusive explanations.

  2. It's just a hypothesis with no factual backing that I know of.


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