04 November 2006

An organised life

In a settlement, many of the surprises common to a nomadic life of a hunter-gatherer – such as travelling to unknown destinations, discovering new terrains, foraging for food, protecting oneself and the tribe from predators and other adversities – were replaced by routine activities in an all-too-familiar territory. Uncertainties were rooted out and life was organised.

Of course, a settled life didn’t mean peace and harmony. New problems surfaced: how to manage resources on a sustainable basis; how to till the land so as to get more yield year after year; how to store food and other commodities without spoiling them; how to harness the power of the seasons; how to deal with conflict arising from people living in close proximity.

Slowly a sense of self emerged in the early human settler; along with it, a consciousness of differential access to resources, skills and knowledge. And thus, to social status. Personal possessions became important. People used differences in their material possessions, as well as their knowledge and skills, to express their economic and social differences from others in the settlement.

Tensions grew, posing problems to the organised life that had been created.

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