We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Wild things in the north? Hunter-gatherers and the tyranny of the colonial perspective.

Layton, R. and Rowley-Conwy, P. (2013) 'Wild things in the north? Hunter-gatherers and the tyranny of the colonial perspective.', Anthropologie: international journal of human diversity and evolution., 51 (2). pp. 213-230.


The paper argues for a synthesis of Darwinian and Marxist theories of evolution. We challenge claims that hunter-gatherer societies evolve via a natural progression from simple to complex, arguing instead that huntergatherer social strategies are adaptations to specifiable ecological conditions, while having emergent consequences that shape the political structure of hunter-gatherer society. We review the various theories of which we make use, and those that we challenge, and test them against data from the ethnographic and archaeological literature on hunter-gatherers, discussing the evidence for variation in technology, mobility, territoriality and egalitarianism versus social inequality. We conclude that human societies do not evolve via a natural progression from simple to complex forms, and that complex hunter-gatherers are not necessarily incipient farmers. Many of the assumptions that colour common views of the development of hunter-gatherer complexity and the appearance of agriculture in prehistoric Europe have their roots, consciously or unconsciously, in nineteenth-century European colonialism.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Special Issue: Theory and method in the prehistoric archaeology of Central Europe.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Record Created:20 Jul 2016 16:05
Last Modified:07 Jun 2018 10:37

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitterExport: EndNote, Zotero | BibTex
Look up in GoogleScholar | Find in a UK Library