Sep

11

MesaI have been thinking about my current modern civilized lifestyle versus a more primitive lifestyle of the hunter-gatherer or pastoral nomad. It started on a recent visit to Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado. Here with my sister and nieces we visited early villages built into the rocks dated around 1100-1300. They are beautiful to see both as a wonderful reminder of the past and their incredible setting high in the cliffs with views 50 miles out onto the plateau. But in reading the history these relics are just the very last remainders of a very ancient culture they call the Ancestral Puebloans. The earlier people had no structures and were nomadic. They moved in rhythm with the seasons and were hunter-gatherers. Their life was much different than the agriculturalists who built the cliff dwellings. The early people had more time away from the fields of labor for one thing. Mobility was also an important part of the older culture, though it took more land to support this. I can see many advantages, more time for culture and family, less work, plenty of movement and variety, fewer possessions to maintain, better physical health. But I believe there was one main disadvantage that led them away from this lifestyle — risk. These people had to live day to day, week to week with great uncertainty. There was no store of grains to support them should supplies dry up or if the hunt was poor, no fallback position. They ate what they could kill and gather. This was a cost for the lifestyle they preferred. The hunter-gatherer still exists somewhere within me today, the desire for simplicity, movement, physical agility, more time for family, and a sense of living in the present. All very positive things.


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5 Comments so far

  1. David Higgs on September 11, 2009 9:59 am

    Those Ancestral Puebloans certainly didn't have anyone beating them over the head to go out and spend, so to keep the savanna full of game, so to speak. I suggest you purchase 50 to 100 rural acres begin to bring out those primordial instincts. Try this web site for starters — www.landsofamerica.com

    A few weeks ago in Blanco County, I was afforded an opportunity to arrowhead hunt. Talk about the thrill of unearthing an artifact that hasn't seen the light of the sun for 3000-6000 years. Looking at these little pieces of art work, certainly gets your mind to think of then and now…

  2. Rocky Humbert on September 11, 2009 10:45 am

    Last time I checked, one could purchase a thousand acres of Southern Colorado desert for the price of a Honda Minivan. But before you embark on a "Chaco For Clunkers" exchange, I submit that you consider the aphorism, "the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." This aphorism is literally true when discussing Ancestral Puebloans — i.e. the civilization turned ugly during extended drought and "climate change." Although controversial among some archeologists, Steven LeBlanc's book, "Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest" (See: http://www.amazon.com/Prehistoric-Warfare-American-Southwest-LeBlanc/dp/0874809088/) discusses signs of violence, dismemberment and cannibalism among the tribe(s). A Mobil Travel Guide this isn't!Also, before singing the praises of the primitive lifestyle, one should also consider that the average age at death was a scientifically verified 35 years. (There was obviously no universal healthcare.) Source: http://www.crowcanyon.org/EducationProducts/archaeologists_online/03_ancient_pueblo.asp#8Duncan correctly writes, "simplicity, movement, physical agility, more time for family, and a sense of living in the present" were virtues of that time — but it is equally important to remember that those virtues were not costless when lamenting the burdens of modernity.

  3. Jesse Liverspots on September 11, 2009 6:58 pm

    Those Pueblo dwellers might have it over the roamers and had it made for a while.

    People always strive for more. Times change. People improve.

    The cliff dwellers, like a guy who’s still rocking Windows ‘95, they are nowhere to found.

  4. reid on September 14, 2009 3:34 pm

    Sailing satisfies the needs, for me, that you describe. Despite the complications and comforts of modern sailboats and gear, sailing exerts demands that reach the primitive areas of the mind. Simple, yet demanding to do well. Living in the present - without doubt. Lots of time to day-dream when times are good (the equivalent of moving from pasture to pasture)and near chaos with hyper-attentiveness required when the winds are howling and the waves are rolling (When the hunt is on).

  5. Joe Cadamuro on September 19, 2009 11:01 pm

    Hello old friend.

    Brilliant work here.

    Let's catch up! 

    Joe

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