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An Empirical Comparison of Territorial Ownership Models in Hunter-Gatherer Societies

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Freeman, Jacob; Anderies, John M.
Date: 2014
Agency: Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Tempe, AZ
Series: CSID Working Papers no. 2014-005
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9606
Sector: History
Social Organization
Subject(s): agriculture
food supply
hunters and gatherers
Abstract: "The economic defensibility hypothesis is the workhorse ecological explanation for investment in territorial ownership in archaeology. Yet, the predictions of this model have not been systematically compared with alternative ecological models that also have implications for levels of investment in territorial ownership. We investigate the consistency of the model of economic defensibility relative to a recent model of forager-resource coevolution (the foraging eort model) to explain investment in territorial ownership documented in a large ethnographic database. Each model predicts that population density, the percent of diet obtained from shing and warfare all increase the likelihood that human foragers invest in territorial ownership. Our results are consistent with these predictions. There are two mutually exclusive predictions, however. The model of economic defensibility predicts that as the density and predictability of terrestrial resources increases, hunter-gatherers are more likely to own territories and the foraging eort model predicts the opposite. Our results are consistent with the foraging eort model. Our results suggest that social dilemmas associated with provisioning the public goods of information on the robustness of resources or common defense create situations in which human foragers gain more by cooperating to recognize and defend ownership claims than they lose. Our results have important implications for investigating the coevolution of territorial ownership and the adoption of food production in the archaeological record."

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