Wild to Civilized

The Craft
Division of Labor

As our agricultural techniques improved and we produced more food, non-food-producing workers could take up specialized occupations

From small nomadic packs 

in the African wilderness . . .

. . . to megacities linked in

a global industrial civilization

From subsistence to surplus agriculture      

 

After several million years until about 12,000 years ago, we still wandered through the habitable landscape of the earth in small hunting-and-gathering packs that had extended out from Africa in all directions, to Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Around 12,000 years ago, however, we invented agriculture, having discovered the idea that deliberately planting seeds in the soil produced an edible crop of grain to prepare and eat. We settled into stationary villages surrounded by the fields we planted and harvested. These villages were separated from each other by fields, pastures, and wilderness of one kind or another. They did not require the large range of territory that each wandering nomadic pack needed, but the territory they required was a permanent claim of each village. The discovery—or invention—of agriculture, the economic base of these small village settlements, turned some nomadic packs into permanent settlements in one location. These small villages had no choice but to push aside any and all hunting-and-gathering packs they encountered, creating a scarcity of land that led to warfare for the first time in the human story or to much more extensive warfare than had existed before. Few other animals have warfare in the sense of group-against-group combat within a species. (Chimpanzees may qualify as having warfare between adjacent bands, but that conclusion is based on chimps confined in territorially-defined reserves or parks or _______, and that very confinement may be the cause of warfare; whether chimps in an unlimited open territory would fight is not yet a question that has been answered; it may never be answered.] But other animals as well as humans do have one-on-one contest fights or dominance tests, and the instinctive forces of aggression in these small battles were no doubt the starting point of larger-scale warfare. Our hunting tools, of course, needed little or no modification for warfare.

           

It would not be long, in historical time, for these village settlements to grow further in population, the direct result of better agricultural techniques that were developed and that enlarged the food supply. More food meant more people. More food also meant more tools of one sort or another. The growing food supply provided sustenance for new, non-food-producing activities to take place, activities like pottery, weaving, and, a little later, metal-working. These developments would change the world – forever. They were profoundly important inventions, never to be forgotten. The idea of a bowl and the concept of a sharp-pointed rod, while new at the time, have lasted ever since they were first conceived and guided us to craft new tools beyond our original stone tools.

           

Some of the villages grew into small towns, some of which grew into large towns and then small cities, some of which grew into large cities and then metropolises or multi-metropolises in a large region. As this process progressed, these enlarging social formations would become ever increasingly interconnected by trade. These trade networks, besides distributing goods among the villages, were also the conduits through which innovations in one location were quickly passed to other locations. Thus, after the invention-discovery of agriculture around 7,000 years ago, the new technology of agriculture [new technologies] spread rapidly throughout the inhabited regions of the earth.

           

Over the span of the last 12,000 years????, we have grown incredibly from our lives in agrarian villages. Through many intermediate stages, we have become virtually a one-world system.  All of these intermediate stages were based on the fact that better and better agricultural techniques would allow us to grow more and more food and so our population grew larger and larger. We have become, in the process, a profound burden on the earth, in our demand for raw materials and in our discarded waste debris. We will deplete our resources some day, some century, some millennium. We also have become a profound burden on ourselves as individuals, living as we now do in the midst of crowds, surrounded by civilized individuals who had evolved into a species that survived its longest, by far, as members of small nomadic packs.

           

The trigger for this historical development was surplus agriculture and occupational specialization. As nomadic hunters and gatherers, we developed our hunting tools and hunting skills at an increasing rate of historical speed. Our tools developed from simple stone tools—flakes used as blades and hand choppers of increasing refinement—to projectile points used in various forms: spear, spear thrower (atlatl), harpoon, and bow and arrow. Basketry also developed at this historical point—to carry gathered fruits and vegetables back to a campsite. As these tools developed, we very slowly increased the amount of food we could hunt and gather, and the size of the nomadic pack increased in exact proportion to that slightly increasing amount of food.

           

We were destined to grow even further and faster, but not by using a hunting-and-gathering technology. The discovery-invention of agriculture, as we showed in the last chapter, was the new technology that began to propel our long-enduring hunting-and-gathering economy toward modern industrial society.

           

In the transition from nomadic hunting-and-gathering packs to settled agrarian villages, one condition remained the same for both types of societies: the amount of food that we gathered, hunted, or cultivated was just enough to support those of us who actually gathered it, hunted it, or grew plants for it. There was no extra food, no leftovers. Whether it was a nomadic pack or one of the first settled agrarian villages, we say we had a subsistence economy. The word subsistence suggests just enough food for us producers of that food to survive. A similar terminology applies, however, to our agricultural output as farmers in these first villages. When we grew just enough food for us farmers, with no extra, we say that our economically autonomous little society was based on subsistence agriculture. Our very first small villages persisted for several thousand years, supported by subsistence agriculture only.

           

[[[[[ REPETITIVE OF CHAPTER ON AG REV]]]]    But the subsequent development of larger villages and still larger towns and still larger cities were all based on a new development: surplus agriculture, producing more food than we producers of that food needed for our own survival. The earth around us, our natural environment, offers us materials that we humans as inventors of new technology can discover, extract from nature, and shape in thousands of ways, maybe even in millions of ways. And so it was with our momentous discovery-invention of agriculture: it could be improved, and improved in so many different ways. At the start, just a few gradual improvements in cultivation techniques allowed a typical small agrarian village to produce more food than we needed as villagers for our own survival. We learned, for example, that cutting and burning forest areas (called “slash and burn”) fertilized the cleared area with ashes and improved the crop yield. We learned that letting fields lie fallow with no growing crops for a season or a year or even several years also improved the yield. We learned that our newly domesticated animals—sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle that became common in early agrarian villages—could be allowed to roam after harvest over our fields, fertilizing those fields with manure and again improving the subsequent crop yield. All these methods of improving the soil and its yield were soon adopted by many early agrarian villages.

           

Thus, we early farmers slowly became able in the same amount of worktime to produce more food than we ourselves needed for our survival—in other words, we produced more food. Or we became able to produce the same amount of food that we needed for our survival in less worktime than previously—in other words, we produced free time. Either way – producing more food in the same amount of time or spending less time to produce the same amount of food – either way freed up food or time. We call it surplus agriculture, and it became the basis for all our subsequent social evolution towards towns, cities, and, ultimately, whole civilizations.

 

A FLOW CHART (here or later) OF AGRICULTURAL INNOVATIONS LEADING TO MORE PEOPLE (ENLARGING THE VILLAGE) OR MORE TIME LEADING IN TWO DIRECTIONS, FOR EITHER MORE TIME FOR FARMERS TO MAKE ADDITIONAL TOOLS FOR THEIR OWN USE OR TO TRADE FOR OTHER GOODS AND PRODUCTS, OR MORE TIME FOR NON-FARMERS TO MAKE ADDITIONAL TOOLS AND OTHER PRODUCTS, WHICH LEADS TO OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALIZATION – CRAFTSMEN.

           

How could this freed-up food or time be used in those first agrarian villages that produced it? First of all, surplus food could be used to feed a larger number of individuals to survive in the social unit, to feed a larger agrarian village. A curious circular chain of events likely began to happen. When farmers were able to produce more food than they themselves needed, that additional food would feed more farmers, and the farming population grew. Those additional farmers along with the previously existing farmers in turn were able to produce altogether more food than they had previously. In the circular chain of events, the whole farming population produced greater and greater amounts of surplus food, and the agrarian village would start to grow faster and faster. Without some change, the farming population would keep growing exponentially. The sharply upturning line in the trajectory of human history discussed in Chapter 1 began to occur precisely when surplus agriculture started.

           

Secondly, surplus time created by surplus agriculture would be spare time that the farmer or the farming household could use to do pottery, weaving, toolmaking, and to make other non-food products or tools not directly involved in creating food, items they could use to enhance their own survival. Pottery was a great aid to us in storing food products for long periods, especially grain from our fields. Weaving was used by us to make fabric for clothing or baskets to carry food. We farmers also made tools, trinkets, and other products, some used in the small amount of trade among the agrarian villages.

The first occupational specialists   [[[    PLACE ELSEWHERE  ]]]]

           

Thirdly, the surplus food could be traded with a non-food-producing specialist, someone who spent part-time or full-time producing one or more non-food products, like cloth - weaver, pottery - potter, tools - blacksmith, and more. The weaver, the potter, and the blacksmith were all what we call occupational specialists. Historically, they are the first individuals to spend their time in making a specialized product. Because they spent far more time making a particular product in larger quantities, these specialists could make a better product than the farmer or the farming household making a few products for their own use. The trade—surplus food for a better-quality specialized product—was inevitable. Thus, an early trade market developed within the enlarging agrarian village and between agrarian villages. This trade market was the first sign of what we today call affluence.

           

Finally, the surplus food we farmers grew went in still another direction as well, to feed another individual and free up that individual’s time for non-agricultural pursuits – in this case, not physical tools as we just discussed, but what is better called services. The first non-food-producing services by non-farmers were in governance, medicine, and/or religion. What is called a big man developed, someone who took the lead in the governance of the farmers. Even hunting-and-gathering tribes developed big men as they enlarged in population size from the extra food produced by their increasingly refined stone tools.  Another service that surplus food allowed to develop was healing skills—a medicine man or woman. And a third specialty also developed—the shaman, a person who used magic to heal people or a person who could access spirits and foretell the future or prevent calamitous events.

           

At first, all of these new skills or services were combined in one person and on a part-time basis only. Governing, medical, and religious pursuits were combined in one part-time person. Eventually, this one non-food-producer became full-time as surplus food became sufficient allow them to devote more time to their specialties. And eventually, with yet more surplus food, these skills became separated and attached to different persons in a process of specialization: one full-time big man, one full-time shaman or priest, one full-time medicine man or woman. In whatever form, these specialists might well have been female, since women were held in high esteem among hunter-gatherers and early agrarian villagers. That high esteem came directly from their strong role, first as gatherers of the main food supply – fruits and vegetables – in hunter-gatherer packs and then as preparers of foods, guardians of fires after fire became tamed, and gardeners of patches of herbs and other specialty plants near the hut or domicile of the agrarian family.

 

[[[[The growing of these various plants in small quantities near the home is called horticulture and is to be distinguished from the growing of grain and other food sources in large fields beyond the herb gardens.]]]]MOVE THIS SENTENCE ELSEWHERE   .

 

Shell and bone carving, bead making, mining for gemstones and quarrying for flint, traders who moved raw materials and finished goods between producers and consumers, full-time specialists or part-time individuals working as corvee (forced labor in lieu of paying taxes, especially, building and repairing roads), boat-builders, sailors and skilled navigators on the seas or rivers, spare time during the growing cycle of plants devoted to specialized endeavors, spare time in winter

 

Another area ???? where we need details and examples, to create color to the narrative.

 

 

………All of these specialists—big man, shaman, medicine man or woman—were leaders with a special skill, a gift, a charisma (which means divine gift) that the rest of us did not have. Hence, they were dominant, and we respected their dominance. This relationship between a leader and other members of the village involved a new division of labor: food in exchange for guidance and spiritual or physical healing. This leader was our first occupational specialist, a person who spent less or no time on producing food and devoted some or all of his or her time to non-food-producing activities that the rest of us desired.

            Occupational specialization depended on surplus agriculture, on us farmers producing more food than we ourselves needed to survive.

 

 

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/hledej.php?hleda=excavation website for excavation photos

PUT IN WORD IMAGES at the start OF THE TOWNS IN THE BEGINNING OF THIS DESCRIPTION OF THE TRANSFORMATION. Get it clear to the readers that there is a growth of towns with a new type of economy.

 

The first occupational specialization [[REPEAT OF MATERIAL JUST BELOW]]

           

Starting around 7,000 years ago, a new social form emerged in the Middle East among the agrarian villages. Farmers had developed new agricultural techniques, producing modestly more food, allowing the population to grow, and turning some villages into small towns with populations of about 300 to 1,000. With a larger population, occupational specialization began. New ways to make things and a new form of the division of labor were bringing forth another dramatic change in how people survived: occupational specialization.

           

Not everybody was a farmer in a village. As agrarian villages grew in small ways, the first “occupation” to emerge was the male or female shaman or the medicine man or woman. Whether they were part time or full-time, they needed to be supplied with food to survive and perform their healing activities. Thus, these occupations could only arise when agricultural techniques produced even just a small amount of surplus food, a bit more than the farmers needed to feed themselves.

           

As agricultural techniques developed even further and more surplus food became available, more occupational specialization occurred: making pottery, weaving cloth, making clothes, fabricating tools and weapons, and other specialties. At first part-time, these occupations eventually became full-time. Both part-time and full-time specialized workers were able to create specialty products of better quality and function. These specialty products greatly aided the farmers in particular—hence, yet more surplus food became available—and they greatly aided everyone else in their daily survival tasks. A mutually reinforcing dynamic took place. More occupational specialization led to more surplus food which led to yet more occupational specialization. Other specialties developed, especially metal-making and metal-working, but also carpentry of all sorts, jewelry-making and other decorative arts, (CHECK IN HAWKES AND WOOLLEY and Sanderson, Social Transformations). Progressively more occupational specialization meant greater affluence and greater population, an ongoing historical development that has occasionally stopped and reversed for a while, but in the long-term timeframe has continued onward and has not ended.

           

Signs of change were everywhere. Archaeological remnants from some of these towns reveal many small houses adjoining each other and laid out along narrow streets, with walls of mortared stones or clay or mud bricks,. While farmers’ huts and other agrarian shelters were usually a single room, the interiors of these houses often had two or three rooms, a sign of changes in the habits of the residents, a sign of increasing specialization even permeating the interior space of the home and a sign, however small, of a new affluence.

           

Marketplaces and temples were other specialized spaces in these early towns. Marketplaces where agricultural products were traded for specialized goods served the needs of farmers as well as townspeople. Marketplaces also served the growing number of traders who traveled from town to town and village to village gathering and selling small, portable luxury items like spices, textiles, jewels, precious metals, and various trinkets. Religious practices that had first developed in nomadic packs or agrarian villages moved out from the local hearths and into temples where one or more full-time occupational specialists—priests—led the ceremonies.

           

Often surrounding the towns were thick, high walls suggesting the towns wanted to protect themselves. Pillaging raiders, probably nomadic packs that had abandoned hunting and gathering and lived off the spoils of warfare, were a threat. So also were warriors from neighboring towns seeking to acquire increasingly scarce land. There is little evidence of warfare among early hunter-gatherers (Hawkes & Woolley, year, page; and a reference Lenore has), whose ranging territories were huge. But at some point, as the nomads became farmers in settled villages that continued to grow in size, land started to become scarce and competition over it likely sparked warfare. Warriors, whether part-time or full-time, were another form of occupational specialization.

 

The first occupational specialization

           

Starting around 7,000 years ago, occupational specialization emerged in the Middle East among the agrarian villages and went further than just one specialist – big man, shaman, medicine man or woman – in the agrarian villages. [GAP HERE in narrative]   As new agricultural techniques produced more food and allowed the population to grow, some villages turned into small towns with populations of about 300 to 1,000. With a larger population, exchange of food for non-food products began to occur more often. Occupational specialization was a new form of the division of labor and brought forth another dramatic change in how we survived.

           

As agricultural techniques developed even further and more surplus food became available, more occupational specialization occurred: making pottery, weaving cloth, making clothes, fabricating tools and weapons, and other specialties. Because they invested more time in producing one specialized product, both part-time and full-time specialized workers were able to create specialty products of better quality and function. These specialty products greatly aided the farmers in particular—hence, yet more surplus food became available—and they greatly aided everyone else in their daily survival tasks.

           

A mutually reinforcing dynamic took place. More occupational specialization led to more surplus food which led to yet more occupational specialization. Other specialties developed, especially metal-making and metal-working, but also carpentry of all sorts, jewelry-making, and other decorative arts. (CHECK IN HAWKES AND WOOLLEY and Sanderson, Social Transformations). Progressively more occupational specialization meant greater affluence – we had more things in our lives to use and enjoy. And the population kept growing. This ongoing historical development occasionally stopped and reversed for a while, but in the long-term timeframe, it continued onward and has not ended.

Spatial specialization

           

Signs of change were everywhere. Archaeological remnants from some of these towns reveal many small houses adjoining each other and laid out along narrow streets, with walls of mortared stones or clay or mud bricks. While farmers’ huts and other agrarian shelters were usually a single room, the interiors of these houses often had two or three rooms, a sign of changes in the habits of the residents, a sign of increasing specialization even permeating the interior space of the home and a sign, however small, of a new affluence.

           

Marketplaces and temples were other specialized spaces in these early towns. Marketplaces where agricultural products were traded for specialized goods served the needs of farmers as well as townspeople. Marketplaces also served the growing number of traders who traveled from village to village and town to town gathering and selling small, portable luxury items like spices, textiles, jewels, precious metals, and various trinkets. Religious practices that had first developed in nomadic packs or agrarian villages moved out from the campfires and local hearths into temples where one or more full-time occupational specialists—priests—led the ceremonies.

           

Often surrounding villages or towns were thick, high walls indicating that the residents needed to protect themselves. Pillaging raiders, probably nomadic packs that had abandoned hunting and gathering and lived off the spoils of warfare, became a threat. So also were warriors from neighboring towns seeking to conquer and acquire the increasingly scarce land. There is little evidence of warfare among early hunter-gatherers (Hawkes & Woolley, year, page; and a reference Lenore has), whose ranging territories were huge. But at some point, as the nomads became farmers in settled villages that continued to grow in size, land started to become scarce and competition over it likely sparked warfare. Warriors, whether part-time or full-time, were another form of occupational specialization. They attached themselves to villages or towns to protect them from other warriors pillaging in the area. The exchange between the warriors and the villagers or townspeople was military protection in exchange for food and other products. The monopoly of violence that the warriors had, of course, tipped the scales in their favor. But in the very early days, however, with little surplus food or time for other specializations, the status of the warriors and the amenities in their living conditions were scarcely better than those of the farmers – in this context, the peasants.

Inequality and social stratification

           

For the long periods of subsistence survival in our human story, the relationships in both the nomadic pack and the early agrarian village were highly equalitarian. Both had sexual divisions of labor, and every adult knew all the techniques of survival, or at least those skills appropriate to their sex. That equality in survival skills made it hard for any one individual to stand out or take over. Others could kick out the bothersome person, possibly by shunning, and survive without him or her.

           

Despite this strong equalitarian streak, all nomadic packs and agrarian villages still had a dominance hierarchy, including alliances to increase dominance further. This dominance hierarchy was the human version of the dominance hierarchy in wolf packs and pre-human hominid groups. But it meant only who was most respected, who could choose where the pack or group should go to find food, who could step in and stop fights, and similar prerogatives. These prerogatives, however, were innate, even instinctive, and if a respected leader died or otherwise was removed from his or her position in the hierarchy, others had the innate skills to step in and perform the same functions, sometimes after a dominance contest of skills or strength by the individuals near the top of the dominance hierarchy. It was a natural division of labor, built into our bodies ages ago, not new, specialized skills that had not existed before and that others lacked.

           

But this large strain of equalitarianism did not last. As some nomadic packs and many agrarian villages gradually enlarged and produced a bit more food than previously, a single individual did stand out in a different way: the medicine man or woman who seemed able to heal maladies, the shaman who used magic to heal or control future events, the holy man or woman who performed rituals to appease the god(s) on behalf of a person or the group, the “big man” who had special skills to lead the group, or other specialized person. He or she was rewarded with food offered by the pack members or villagers, which gave him or her the time to perform the specialized services. This extra food passed on to this new, specialized person might even be called a tax, the first tax. The quantity and quality of the food that this specialist received might have been distinctively greater than the rest of the group members enjoyed. He or she may also have been rewarded with especially good trinkets or jewelry, which could be worn to show his or her distinctive status. He or she also avoided the heavy grunt-work of hunting, gathering, or working the fields.

Trade secrets and social stratification    

    

Here with the origin of the first occupational specialist were the first signs of a hierarchy in material possessions, the first signs of stratification, of more than one layer in a society (strata = layers). We must not confuse these terms—hierarchy, stratification, layers including modern terms such as organization chart or structure—with any sort of physically vertical arrangement, which does not exist for purposes of our analysis and hardly exists in reality. As we explained in Chapter 2—Movement in social life, all humans move in a horizontal plane on the earth’s surface or on floors of a building or on the floors of aircraft. And, yes, individuals may be physically elevated on thrones or stages or on which floor of a building they occupy, which do imply a distinction between the person on the throne and others in front of the throne, or between the persons on the stage and the audience, or between the persons on the top floors of a building and the persons on the bottom floors.

           

But the horizontal arrangement of individuals is the critical observation for us. In that horizontal arrangement can be seen all that we need to see to observe the reality of a hierarchy or of stratification. The two parties—the king and the commoners, the actors and the audience, the lecturer and the audience, the boss and the employees, the priest and the congregation, the president or political leader and the legislators or the citizens, and so forth—spend most of their time physically and horizontally separated from each other. The two parties seldom interact. The two parties, when they do interact, do so in ritualized or formal ways, with distinct spatial locations for each party: the head of the table, the throne, the lectern, the stage, the altar, and so forth. And the two parties usually differ quite substantially in their material possessions.

           

Maintaining their special spatial position in society and their greater portion of material possessions involves definite objects, personnel, procedures, powers, or beliefs, or a combination of these. A physical barrier like a wall or guard rail, a more elaborate home, a special building, or an entourage of personnel or special vehicles, any of which barriers may come with personnel like guards, often keeps the two parties separate and distinct from each other. Clothing, elaborate versus not elaborate, often separates and distinguishes the two parties. Specialized procedures performed by distinct and distinguished practitioners of one sort or another include:  rituals such as religious communion, incantations such as public prayers, chants such as the Pledge of Allegiance, medical or healing or spiritual routines, lawmaking such as an elected body passing legislation, and many procedures of a similar kind are perceived to convey various benefits to the recipients, clients, parishioners, patients,  and At the same time, they separate the two parties involved and enforce or  justify the greater material wealth of one party or class of individuals. Beliefs and powers also separate the parties and preserve that differential in wealth. Without much thought, we grant healing powers to doctors and medicine men and women. We grant a monopoly of physical force and violence to police and government in general. Trade secrets, including claims of specialized knowledge, by different occupational specialists, as we shall discuss later in this chapter, preserves each group’s monopoly over a segment of the economy and the income therefrom.

         

The invention of God or gods (if we may be excused from using that term “invention” in this context) separates the priest or preacher or holy man or woman from the world of his or her believers. It gives the priest or preacher or holy man a special relationship to that God, offering to parishioners a channel to forgiveness and salvation only through the intermediary of the priest or preacher and the magic or miracle of a ritual such as baptism or communion or confession of belief. In the Catholic church, the priest is the conduit to God. The Protestant church is only a modest change from the Catholic church, removing the priest as conduit, but making the preacher the protector and dispenser of the correct doctrine that ensures that individual parishioners may achieve forgiveness and salvation. Each Protestant denomination has its own doctrine of salvation. Whether it is a Catholic priest or a Protestant preacher, whether it is the person of the priest/preacher or the church, both receive earthly and/or heavenly riches from their special relationship to God and a separation from the mass of believers. In the Middle Ages, a tithe or 10 percent of one’s crop and animals went to the local church, and churches became quite wealthy from it.

           

All these tactics and more are the foundation of social stratification, of the special, separate  position given to occupationally specialized individuals or groups.

END OF BOX ]]]]]]      

           

             

These new, specialized skills of the first occupational specialists—the medicine man or woman, the shaman, the holy man or woman, the big man—demonstrated what may be called a craft, the first specialized craft. The holy man or shaman as a craft person had the knowledge or the divine gift of how to perform all his or her specialized skills, a knowledge or gift that others in the pack or tribe or village or chiefdom lacked. This individual was at first part-time in his or her services to the pack or the village. And for that part-time effort, he or she received extra food, the surplus food that allowed this first occupational specialist to arise. This phenomenon was strikingly new. As a result of better tools or better hunting, gathering, or farming techniques, the pack members or villagers had managed to kill or gather or grow a little bit more food than they needed for themselves. That surplus food could be given to a specialist such as a shaman, who was thereby freed up from acquiring food, at least partially, in order to do his or her specialty. In time, yet more food provided support for a full-time shaman. This person was the first occupational specialist. And this arrangement involved a new division of labor, a new transfer of work objects: food in exchange for spiritual or physical healing, or blessings on a crop, or knowledge of future events, or similar spiritual powers.

           

It might be noted here that in this transfer, a physical object—food—was transferred in one direction, but no final physical object passed in the other direction. What the villagers or pack members received back from a shaman or spiritual leader was a service (see BOX) rather than a discrete product. This shaman, in exchange for food, might perform rituals to cleanse an individual of improper past deeds, or make a concoction of herbs, roots, and other plant parts to heal an individual’s physical problem, or dance until delirium to restore an individual’s or a tribe’s spiritual wholeness.

           

The shaman or spiritual leader or other leader of a small community—a head man, a “big man,” a medicine man—is an occupational specialist, the first such specialist in a community consisting of like-skilled individuals, such as prehistoric farmers. In these prehistoric communities, the first occupational specialists developed when a small amount of surplus agriculture could be produced. Occasionally, prehistoric hunter-gatherers in an environment with plentiful food also develop a similar specialist in their group. These occupational specialists would eventually develop into a large number of specialists in a community based on considerable surplus agriculture, such specialists as cobblers, bakers, blacksmiths, as well as merchants, traders, government leaders and, in modern times, a host of occupational specialists such as dentists, lawyers, mayors, presidents, auto mechanics, and the list goes on and on. Occupational specialization was destined to develop and issue in a dramatic change in the division of labor, producing what we will call a craft division of labor.

 

BOX:

A service is equivalent to a work object in a division of labor. It is a physical activity or a set of physical procedures that are done with the intent of giving an often intangible or non-physical result to a client, customer, or consumer. For example, a fertility dance, an herbal concoction to produce a state of health or wellbeing, a cleansing ritual, a blessing by a priest, a massage for relaxation or medical improvement, a lawsuit to exonerate a client, a car tune-up to produce a smooth-running car—all these services involve physical actions by a medicine man, a practitioner or a service provider. The intended result of these physical actions is itself often physical—fertility, healing, relaxation, a smooth-running car, etc.—but the intended result may also be intangible—salvation, forgiveness, in a usually non-tangible outcome --  that is intangible and non-physical itself, but provides a benefit to the end-receiver—n the client, customer, or consumer. For example, a massage, a lawsuit defended, a car tune-up, or a tooth cavity filled all involve a benefit received without a physical, consumable product passing from one person to another. They do all involve physical objects—all reality involves physical objects. The massage involves hands, a body, and a massage table. The lawsuit involves papers, books, office space, and a courtroom. A car tune-up involves hands, tools, auto parts, and a vehicle.  A tooth cavity filled involves hands, motorized and non-motorized tools, filling material, and a specialized chair. But the final benefit received is intangible, or at least relatively intangible: a relaxed body and brain, an absolved defendant, a smoothly functioning vehicle, or a pain-free dental client with more rather than fewer teeth. A service, then, is not a physical product, although it always involves dealing with physical objects. The delivery of services can be analyzed in exactly the same way as the manufacture and distribution of physical products. A service provider of any kind is an occupational specialist, whether part-time or full-time.

END OF BOX

 

Feudalism:  A division of labor with warrior specialists

At some time in prehistory and at other times around the world—in particular, during the Dark Ages in Europe—two common social forms were the hunting-and-gathering pack and the agrarian village, which we have been discussing here and in the preceding three chapters (Chapter X, The origin of sharing, Chapter X, The sexual division of labor, and Chapter X, The agricultural revolution). As these nomadic packs and agrarian villages improved their hunting and agricultural techniques, respectively, and increased the amount of food they could produce, they increased in numbers and developed in size. Consequently, the spatial requirements of each pack or village increased and pressed them against other packs or villages. Conflict and warfare inevitably arose, probably for the first time since our prehistory because no evidence of warfare exists during the time of the very early, subsistence-level, hunting-and-gathering packs.

 

But in the Dark Ages in Europe, warfare did occur, and the most vulnerable were the villagers, the farmers. Hunting-and-gathering packs could easily expand their hunting tools into weapons of warfare, but farmers could not. They lacked weapons or fell behind in improving their weapons, and they could not move their fields to another, safer location. Meanwhile, the hunter-gatherers developed their weapons. Some of the hunters from these packs—now more appropriately called warriors—turned to marauding the villages, raiding them, killing the men, killing the women (after raping them) and children, feasting on the available food, and stealing all the luxury items. Sometimes, women were captured and taken back to the pack to be wives or slaves.

           

In some cases, the warriors conquered a village and took command of it, defending the village against other marauding packs. Exposed and vulnerable to these raids, the farmers needed a remedy, and this arrangement with a marauding pack was the remedy. The farmers supplied the pack members—men, women, and children—with surplus food, and in trade, the pack would provide military protection. The leader of the conquering pack became the lord of the village, and his house—little more than a thatched hut similar to the farmers’ huts or a grand castle surrounded by protective walls—became the court in which disputes among the villagers were settled by a judgment of the lord.

           

Here, then, was a true division of labor, protection in exchange for food. The farmers—called peasants in the context of these early agrarian villages—either gave a portion of their crops to the lord and his warriors to pay their tax or rent. Or they were made to labor for a portion of their time in the crop fields of the lord to satisfy that legal obligation. The peasant-farmer’s household—husband, wife, children, and other members of the extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins (?????)—was fed from the remaining yield of his crops or from the yield of the remaining time he spent laboring in his own fields. In this way, the peasant-farmers fed the lord and his warriors and their own families.

           

The tax or rent or labor owed to the lord was for the use of the land that the peasant-farmers lived on and tilled. In theory, the lord owned the land while the peasant-farming household had a lifetime obligation to stay on that land and work the fields. They were considered serfs, not slaves, and were “tied” to the land. If the land were sold by the lord, the peasant-farmer-serf went with the land. A slave, in contrast, could be moved to any location by the slaveholder. Thus, the medieval serf had a kind of insurance in not being unbound from the land that was their livelihood. Yet they often lived in the same village on the same land for their entire life. A peasant-farmer-serf could achieve the status of freeman or freeholder, acquired by buying their land from the lord or paying rent for it in the form of barter or money. The status as freeman meant they were not tied to the land and could do business with people outside the village.

           

Within the peasant-farmer’s household, the husband, wife, or other household members, both adults and older youngsters, made items of fiber, wood, or metal and various tools, including yarn, fabric, and clothing as well as bowls, spoons, cups, pots, stools, tables, benches, and farming tools such as hoes and primitive forms of plows, which were at first made entirely of wood. Later, metal was introduced, and some or all of the metal tools or the metal parts of tools were made by a village blacksmith, one of the earliest occupational specialists. Peasant-farming households also built their own homes with the help of other villagers: small, dark huts made of sticks, straw, and mud or animal dung, with thatched roofs.  Inside, they slept on straw mattresses on the floor. Also inside the hut or in a separate building were any domesticated animals such as sheep or oxen, kept inside to protect them from wolves and other predatory animals.

           

At first, all of these items were crafted by the peasant-farmer’s household for their own use only. As time went by, however, innovations in farming tools, such as the wheelbarrow and the moldboard plow that dug deeper and turned the soil over, produced a slightly greater amount of surplus agriculture. A peasant-farming household could then make a surplus of one or more of these items, which were sold or used as barter in trade with other villagers, or given to the lord to satisfy an obligation, or even traded in town for goods or money. Different households produced different kinds of items for barter or sale.

             

The movement pattern of the peasant-farming householders confined them largely to the agrarian village they lived in, with occasional excursions to a nearby town on market day. Within that village, they stayed primarily on their own land and within their own home, but did make extensive movements elsewhere in the village when interacting with other villagers. Villagers coordinated their work when plowing their fields, sharing the use of oxen and plow. Their fields consisted of strips of land in several fields (see DIAGRAM), with each household assigned to one strip in each field. This arrangement helped to guarantee that each household got the same proportion of good soil and not-so-good soil, a very equalitarian arrangement among the peasant-farmers.

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Sometimes, the skills of the peasants in making cloth and clothing or other articles used in a peasant’s household produced additional items given to the lord as part of the exchange. The military power of the warriors meant that they had an advantage over the peasants and could extract more food or more labor or more trade articles. But when the agrarian village was at first close to subsistence, the barter exchange—food for protection—kept the lord and his warriors close to the same subsistence level as the peasants. As technological improvements and surplus agriculture developed further, however, more time was available for making additional articles for trade. The extractive ability of the lord and his warriors increased along with their standard of living relative to the peasant standard of living. The situation, however, was not totally exploitative. The lord and warriors were limited by their interests in keeping the peasants productive, but that limit did not produce the 8-hour day. The peasant farmers were required to spend two or three days a week working in the lord’s fields, and the time left over was barely enough to produce a very minimal living standard.

           

The warriors often went on to conquer other villages and take them over, making their lord the overlord of a set of villages. Some of the warriors were left at each village, and by a pledge to the overlord, the leader of these village warriors promised to provide food to the overlord as well as battle-ready warriors at non-harvest times of the year (warfare was made convenient to the demands of agriculture) or when the overlord was under attack. Lords and overlords often went to war, because if they did not go to war, they might be attacked and subjugated or attacked and killed by other warrior tribes. Thus, many lords and overlords were battling to acquire more and more villages, subjugating the local lords, and building up their collection of agrarian villages—until finally a single lord became the overlord of all the villages in one large geographic area and rose to the position of king. Then kings fought kings. The word feudalism actually derives from the complicated relationships that developed among the lords and overlords.

           

[[[[ADD OR MAKE SURE IT’S THERE THAT THE FEUDAL WARRIORS WERE FULL-TIME OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALISTS, AMONG THE FIRST OF THEM, AND THEIR JOB OF PROTECTING VILLAGES FROM START TO FINISH. THEY TENDED TO THEIR WEAPONS AND ARMOR AND HORSES—WHICH IS THE SAME CRAFT DIVISION OF LABOR.]]]

           

Here, then, was an equally important version of a division of labor. The farmers gave food and received back a service rather than a discrete product. That service was the protection that the farmers received when the lord and his warriors went forth and fended off any marauding invaders—other warriors from nomadic packs. Providing this warrior service involved specialized steps: making or getting weapons, making or getting armour, making or getting saddles and horse paraphernalia, making or getting regalia to wear. All of these steps and others we leave unnamed were performed in succession or by occupational specialists in each craft. And they were all necessary to the warrior’s role in battle.

          

The farmers helped build a manor house at first, a home for the lord and his warriors. Later, they built a walled-in village around the manor house, creating a safe haven not just for the lord and his warriors, but for a few other specialists—the _____(tending the animals and stables), the blacksmith, the miller, the carpenter, and in times of attack, the peasant-farmers as well. It was also a service that the lord provided when he sat “in court”—in the large room in the manor house for the warriors and for receiving farmers—and adjudicated disputes between any villagers and thus preserved the general peace of the village—to the benefit of the farmers who passed along grain and other food products to him.

           

An element of exploitation surely did exist to one extent or another between the lord (and his warriors) on one side of the exchange of products and services and the peasants on the other side. The lord and his warriors certainly had the weaponry to subdue the farmers, yet their need for food placed a limit on how badly they could treat the farmers. Thus, an exchange did take place involving a product from the peasants—grain and other food—and a service from the lord and his warriors—defense and adjudication. The lord and his warriors were another instance of occupational specialization, made possible only by surplus food, also called surplus agriculture.

 

As agricultural techniques developed even further and more surplus food became available, more occupational specialization occurred: making pottery, weaving cloth, making clothes, fabricating tools and weapons, and other specialties. At first part-time, these occupations in part of the home, eventually became full-time. Both part-time and full-time specialized workers, from working regularly or continuously on their specialized product, were able to create specialty products of better quality and function. These specialty products greatly aided the farmers in particular—hence, yet more surplus food became available—and they greatly aided everyone else in their daily survival tasks. A mutually reinforcing dynamic took place. More occupational specialization led to more surplus food which led to yet more occupational specialization. Other specialties developed, especially metal-making and metal-working, but also carpentry of all sorts, jewelry-making and other decorative arts, (CHECK IN HAWKES AND WOOLLEY and Sanderson, Social Transformations). Progressively more occupational specialization meant greater affluence and greater population, an ongoing historical development that has occasionally stopped and reversed for a while, but in the long-term timeframe has continued onward and has not ended.

           

Signs of change were everywhere. Archaeological remnants from some of these towns reveal many small houses adjoining each other and laid out along narrow streets, with walls of mortared stones or clay or mud bricks,. While farmers’ huts and other agrarian shelters were usually a single room, the interiors of these houses often had two or three rooms, a sign of changes in the habits of the residents, a sign of increasing specialization even permeating the interior space of the home and a sign, however small, of a new affluence.

           

Marketplaces and temples were other specialized spaces in these early towns. Marketplaces where agricultural products were traded for specialized goods served the needs of farmers as well as townspeople. Marketplaces also served the growing number of traders who traveled from town to town and village to village gathering and selling small, portable luxury items like spices, textiles, jewels, precious metals, and various trinkets. Religious practices that had first developed in nomadic packs or agrarian villages moved out from the local hearths and into temples where one or more full-time occupational specialists—priests—led the ceremonies.

           

Often surrounding the towns were thick, high walls suggesting the towns wanted to protect themselves. Pillaging raiders, probably nomadic packs that had abandoned hunting and gathering and lived off the spoils of warfare, were a threat. So also were warriors from neighboring towns seeking to acquire increasingly scarce land. There is little evidence of warfare among early hunter-gatherers (Hawkes & Woolley, year, page; and a reference Lenore has), whose ranging territories were huge. But at some point, as the nomads became farmers in settled villages that continued to grow in size, land started to become scarce and competition over it likely sparked warfare. Warriors, whether part-time or full-time, were another form of occupational specialization.

Questions or comments:  schlomings@gmail.com.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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