What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Week Seven-Why Did Humans Settle Down, Build Cities, and Establish States?

Week 7: 10/25/2020

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Why Did Humans Settle Down, Build Cities, and Establish States?


Read Chapter 7 of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human?


Overview: Human societies have changed over the millennia as they settled in one place for extended periods of time, and some groups domesticated plants and animals through farming. Beginning in what today is the Middle East, some groups-built cities, and established states. States are structurally complex social organizations that exhibit status inequality among their citizens. We will survey what anthropologists can tell us about the causes and consequences of these major social transformations.

Points to Consider: Although the advent of agriculture allowed humans to produce more food and have more children, it also increased the size of populations and led to more sedentary lifestyles. What were/are the repercussions of this? What role did this play in the development of complex societies? How has technology affected agriculturalism and global food production?


In-or Outside-class/or ZOOM Exercise: Food Production and Origins

Students take 5โ€“10 minutes to write down a list of all the major ingredients of food they can think ofโ€”i.e., how many cereals can they identify, how many types of potatoes, etc. Link the activity to discussion of the where these plants or animals were first domesticated in the world.


Discussion Questions 7: On Chapter 7 of Anthropology: What Does It Mean to Be Human?

Do you think environments directly determine the kinds of adaptations that humans have?
Was the transition from hunter-gatherers to living in state-level societies a positive or negative development for humans?
What do you think most attracted early humans to live in cities?
Is living in a city better than living as a hunter-gatherer?


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