Human social organization during the Late Pleistocene: Beyond the nomadic-egalitarian model

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2022.07.003. This is version 3 of this Preprint.

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Authors

Manvir Singh, Luke Glowacki

Abstract

Many researchers assume that until 10-12,000 years ago, humans lived in small, mobile, relatively egalitarian bands composed mostly of kin. This “nomadic-egalitarian model” informs evolutionary explanations of behavior and our understanding of how contemporary societies differ from those of our evolutionary past. Here, we synthesize research challenging this model and propose an alternative, the diverse histories model, to replace it. We outline the limitations of using recent foragers as models of Late Pleistocene societies and the considerable social variation among foragers commonly considered small-scale, mobile, and egalitarian. We review ethnographic and archaeological findings covering 34 world regions showing that non-agricultural peoples often live in groups that are more sedentary, unequal, large, politically stratified, and capable of large-scale cooperation and resource management than is normally assumed. These characteristics are not restricted to extant Holocene hunter-gatherers but, as suggested by archaeological findings from 27 Middle Stone Age sites, likely characterized societies throughout the Late Pleistocene (until c. 130 ka), if not earlier. These findings have implications for how we understand human psychological adaptations and the broad trajectory of human history.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.32942/osf.io/vusye

Subjects

Anthropology, Archaeological Anthropology, Behavior and Ethology, Biological and Physical Anthropology, Biological Psychology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Evolution, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Psychology, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Social and Cultural Anthropology

Keywords

Archaeology, behavioral ecology, coastal adaptation, Cooperation, hierarchy, human evolution, hunter-gatherers, inequality, Late Pleistocene, sedentism

Dates

Published: 2021-03-13 21:38

Last Updated: 2022-07-22 17:31

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License

CC-By Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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