Sample Anthropology Essays on Hunting and Gathering

The most accurate and of the relative importance of hunting versus gathering in foraging societies in terms of nutrition relates to the major activity of the early man. Despite being a source of nutrition to foraging societies, it enhanced the survival of early man thus preventing extinction through adaptive mechanisms. In the late 1890s, hunting and gathering were of great importance to early man. According to anthropological studies, food acquisition methods were one of the cultural activities of early man during the period. Both methods of food acquisition provided man with nutrition and ecological niche in society (Serena, & Richard, 2013). The flexible dietary regime influenced his eating habits that allowed man to consume a balanced diet. The distinction between hunting and gathering enables us to appreciate the structural consequences the activities have on foraging societies.

In addition, in terms of place in society, individuals realized the need for hunting and gathering. The nearness of individuals with the natural surroundings in foraging societies influenced the growth of social systems in the society. Insufficient scientific awareness influenced the growth of divergent traits which were responsible for different cultural and religious beliefs. Although many societies transformed to domestication, the practice is still applicable in marginalized societies (Paul, 2009). Some scholars argue that man relied on scavenged meat, but there is little evidence given on the use of herbal food in the early periods. Foragers mainly relied on their body power in hunting and gathering. The uncertainty associated with the hunting and gathering life transformed man into a sedentary lifestyle. Thus, the comparative significance of foraging lifestyle in relation to nutrition and society position provides an understanding of culture by anthropologists in such communities.

In addition, in the 1900s in Europe and America, hunting and gathering enhanced the health and survival chances of the foragers. From an evolutionary argument, these two activities enhanced the reproductive chances preventing the extinction of weaker species. Given the undeveloped scientific knowledge, society’s way of life began to change. People began to assign different interpretations to nature which gave rise to diverse cultural and religious practices. The notions of the social order and the uncertainties associated with food supplies began to be subjected to religious interpretations. Thus, the importance of hunting and gathering life is not only restricted to practical explanations but also a basis for understanding the culture of the involved societies.

Larger societies include groups whose organization can be categorized as bands, tribes, chiefdoms, and states. During the 1900s period, these group sizes increased necessitating new systems of social bodies. The development from kinship tribes to nation status was a move to overcome the challenges that had emanated from large social circles (Paul, 2009). Group size presented enormous challenges especially when a small group of families exercises power over the majority.

In an attempt to resolve the problems, human group sizes were reduced to smaller groups. To keep the society norms intact, the clans held tribal gatherings for sharing the society’s values and practices. Therefore, political systems began to take various forms such as the band, tribes, chiefdoms, and finally to a state level. Bands consisted of uncentralized groups of families who considered themselves as equals (Ken, 2008). However, they choose a leader who presided over their religious duties and settles society disputes. Due to their movements, their main activity was foraging. A tribe was similar to a band except that they possess some level of stratification, which depends on it leadership structure. Distinct from a band, they practice domestication of both plants as well as animals and had a pastoral lifestyle.

Chiefdom is centralized with a recognized authority who acts as the chief. However, the chiefdom was larger or varied between the band and tribe sizes. Chiefdoms practiced plant and animal domestication and thus their economy was agriculturally based. Similar to chiefdom, the state was a centralized society, governed by a powerful authority known as a king. In these societies, social stratification based on classes dominates the group. The population of such societies is large to justify intensive farming and market economy and labor specialization (Parikka, 2012).

The Hutterites belong to the political organizational structure at the state levels. In relation to the mentioned political systems, Hutterites represent several states scattered in the United States and various provinces of Canada. Since the sixteenth century, the Hutterites lived together and shared their properties. Unlike other individualistic societies, Hitterites practiced communal activities such as religion and farming. Despite having features that are deeply rooted in a state political structure, Hutterites maintained their social behaviors and genetic uniqueness. This narrowly separates them apart from the characteristics of this political structure. In addition, decisions are communally and not influenced by any political, social, and economic trends.

The number of recognized supernatural beings differs among cultures. Every culture has recognized principles and practices that differ from the others. Similarly, the belief in the presence of supernatural beings differs among cultures. This number depends on the number of existing cultures and the similarities among the groups. In sub- Saharan Africa, there was a large number of supernatural beings due to many tribal and cultural beliefs. For example, in the late 20th century, an estimated 70% of communities in Sub-Saharan Africa believed in the existence of Satan while 94% believed in the existence of God (Serena, & Richard, 2013).

However, these communities attached different meanings and interpretations to their supernatural being. It is from the study of people’s culture that beliefs are built. In ancient times, these aspects of culture influenced the political systems and religion. The administrative configurations varied in terms of centralization, scope, economic lifestyle, and cultural practices. While some cultures recognized the control of a centralized authority, others were communally governed by a council of elders. The division of world religions into Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism is attributed to cultural disparities. According to Ken, (2008), people’s culture relies heavily on religion to attain its objectives.

Sociobiology focuses on the evolutionary and behavioral concepts in understanding human behavior. It is concerned with the foundation, evolution, and variability of people’s practices. Both concepts acknowledge the principles that creatures gather environmental information, subject to their genetic constraint to emit responses (Paul, 2009). Anthropologists recognize these elements in their behavioral studies as an input to understanding human traits.

Anthropologists to explain human behavior can apply sociobiology concepts. The variations in behavior are shaped by ecological and biological factors. According to this concept, behavior is a combination of interactions of environmental agents and the genetic makeup of the individual organism. Sociobiology also studies behavior from linguistics anthropological concepts.  Linguistics concept studies culture from the people’s language. Different arguments have been proposed to explain the origin of human language (Sally, Binford, & Roberts, 2009). One proponent argues that language began from early man’s attempt to imitate the natural sounds around him. This theory is criticized on the basis that these sounds varied from one species to another and that human words are of natural origin and not from sounds. Various evidence has been put forward to explain how language began. The absence of concrete evidence poses difficulties in this area of study by linguistics. Scholars have attempted to understand the origin of language by drawing inferences from fossil records and comparison of human language with other primates.

In summary, culture variability depends on situational factors that society was involved. Anthropological concepts such as linguistics allow us to appreciate the origin of culture and the factors that influence their formation. Given the differences in cultural practices, human behavior in different societies provides evidence in anthropological studies. Hunting and gathering life was a culture that was renowned in ancient times. Due to limited scientific developments, this was the major way of obtaining food by early man. However, the limitations associated with this method and the growth in populations resulted in the growth of political and social systems. These political systems lay the foundation of the growth of human societies to nation status.



Ken, B. (2008).Core concepts in understanding physical anthropology. London: Routledge publishers.

Parikka, J. (2012). What is archeology? New York: Harvard University Press.

Paul, D. (2009). Anthropology and culture. London: Saddleback educational publishers.

Sally, R., Binford, L., & Roberts, B. (2009). Linguistics in cultural systems. London: Transaction publishers.

Serena, N., & Richard, W. (2013).Cultural anthropology. New York: Cengage Learning.