History and Historiography

Hunter-Gatherer Culture

National Geographic

Hunter-gatherer culture was the way of life for early humans until around 11 to 12,000 years ago. The lifestyle of hunter-gatherers was based on hunting animals and foraging for food.

Hunter-gatherer culture is a type of subsistence lifestyle that relies on hunting and fishing animals and foraging for wild vegetation and other nutrients like honey, for food. Until approximately 12,000 years ago, all humans practiced hunting-gathering.

Anthropologists have discovered evidence for the practice of hunter-gatherer culture by modern humans (Homo sapiens) and their distant ancestors dating as far back as two million years. Before the emergence of hunter-gatherer cultures, earlier groups relied on the practice of scavenging animal remains that predators left behind.

Because hunter-gatherers did not rely on agriculture, they used mobility as a survival strategy. Indeed, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle required access to large areas of land, between seven and 500 square miles, to find the food they needed to survive. This made establishing long-term settlements impractical, and most hunter-gatherers were nomadic. Hunter-gatherer groups tended to range in size from an extended family to a larger band of no more than about 100 people.


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