Before Farming

The health of sedentism, sharing and diet and the illnesses of aggregation

Before Farming (2003), 2003, (3), 1–9.

Abstract

Health is a multifaceted and complex condition, as is its absence – illness. The role of morbidity and mortality from pathogens varied through time in fascinating ways. What kind of models are appropriate for past societies? Sharing and health, for example, are interestingly linked in ways usually not recognised by anthropologists. In order to understand the changing patterns of health through time, it is necessary, I suggest, to understand the changing patterns of sharing, aggregation, and sedentism. Diet, and particularly farming, I propose, had a much smaller role in the spread and perpetuation of disease than is usually attributed to it. Instead, aggregation had a much larger role in promoting higher morbidity among hunter-gatherers past and present than is usually attributed, especially when coupled with sedentism.

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Author details

Kent, Susan