Journal of Archaeological Research

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1-43

First online:

Low-Level Food Production

  • Bruce D. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

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Societies with low-level food production economies occupy the vast and diverse middle ground between hunting–fishing–foraging and agriculture. Efforts by Ford, Harris, Rindos, Zvelebil, and others to characterize this “in-between” territory are discussed, and a new conceptual framework is proposed. Domestication, the central landmark of this middle ground, is situated well away from the boundaries with hunting–gathering and agriculture, and separates low-level food production economies into two broad categories. Key issues and questions concerning societies with low-level food production, both with and without domesticates, are discussed. Hunter–gatherer and agriculture boundary zones on either side of the middle ground are considered, as are the developmental pathways that traverse them.

food production domestication origins of agriculture subsistence economy