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Food Production and Its Consequences

Margaret Dittemore

Vol. 66, No. 4 (July–August 1978)

FOOD PRODUCTION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES. Philip E. L. Smith. 120 pp. Cummings, 1976. $5.95 cloth, $3.25 paper.

Nearly the last half century of field investigations into the topic of food production has substantially altered the speculation of the hundreds of years preceding it. In this volume, Smith summarizes these recent findings and the ways in which the adoption of food production has influenced our lives. He briefly reviews the general principles and background of food production in an attempt to show how it developed. He believes that the development can be best explained through an evaluation of the altered relationships between man and plants and animals, based on changes in techniques of appropriation. Smith relies on data drawn from archaeological research in the Near East, Europe, and the Americas.

The bulk of the volume is devoted to a discussion of the consequences of food production in a number of specific domains. The more important changes for Smith are in human cultural and social institutions. Besides an evaluation of archaeological evidence, he employs additional lines of reasoning: logic and imagination, and ethnological and historical comparison and analogy.

As Smith freely admits, his work is a “personal interpretation of one aspect of prehistory” in which he as an archaeologist and anthropologist has had some experience. His approach to this topic is one shared by a number of anthropological archaeologists today, and it has been very fruitful in outlining some aspects of a multisided problem. This volume is recommended as a concise and stimulating discussion of a very timely subject. Its bibliographical references will enable readers to pursue the topic in more depth.—Margaret Dittemore, American Research Institute in Turkey, Istanbul

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