Revised 29 August 2021 Sub-sections to be decided, References and figures to be added
Humankind appeared in the form of Homo Sapiens less than half a million years ago. For many thousands of years humankind lived as a predatory animal. Hunting, fishing, cannibalism, and the gathering of wild fruit and vegetables remained the only mode of sustenance. Indeed, humankind has lived as a primitive hunter and gatherer for all but 1 percent of its known existence. This period might be the only time that humankind has ever lived a long-term steady state way of life.
Much of humankind’s time and energy was spent in search of food. Humankind relied mainly on good luck together with whatever hunting skills it had developed. Starvation was a constant threat and this, together with the hazards of the hunt and the wilds, made for a short life and sometimes a violent death. Although fertility rates were high, the population was held in check so that there was virtually zero population growth for many thousands of years.
Stone tools, a form of exosomatic capital, were first used about 500,000 years ago and humankind first learned how to harness energy by taming fire for warmth, light, and protection. Fire was mastered about 450 - 350,000 B.C. and this enabled humankind to add previously inedible plants to its diet. New skills and innovations helped increase food collecting efficiency, but use of exosomatic capital was still at a very low level. The only energy that humankind had command over was that muscular energy stored within their own bodies. This energy was sustained by the solar energy converters of the plants and animals that humankind fed on. Resource and energy consumption were minimal. The ecosystem provided humankind with its needs and the ecosystem rejuvenated itself every spring.
Early hunting and gathering societies adapted to the seasonal patterns of nature and lived a nomadic life migrating from one area to another. The density of the populations varied with climatic changes and with the appearance and disappearance of game. It is thought that densities never exceeded much more than 1 person per square kilometre.
While humankind was a hunter-gatherer, human settlements were small and temporary because food collection productivity was low and each tribe of hunter-gatherers required immense hunting territories. They lived in small family groups and settled in natural shelters such as caves. Only rarely did they make huts and, if so, these may have consisted of tents made out of skins. There were no transportation or communication lines between tribes. The settlements themselves were of the lowest order consisting of a nucleus in the form of Ekistic shells and several paths leading into the open.
Figure 1: Pre-Agricultural settlements.
***** Sources of content (sources to be added)
Daumas, M. Editor. A History of Technology and Invention: Progress Through the Ages. Volume I: The Origins of Technological Civilization to 1450. Vol II: The First Stages of Mechanization 1450-1725. Volume III: The Expansion of Mechanization 1725-1860. London, John Murray, 1969.
Farb, P. Humankind. Frogmore St Albans, Triad/Panther Books, 1978.
Harari, Y.N. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. London, Vintage Books, 2018.