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A review of archaeological evidence at southern African sites inhabited by hunter-gatherers known as the !Kung reveals a striking consistency over the past 40,000 years in their way of life, even after the
The !Kung underwent change, but they show a surprising degree of cultural conservatism," Yellen contends.
Yellen has excavated !Kung archaeological sites with colleague Alison S.
Animal bones uncovered at four !Kung campsites show that although they ate fewer wild species beginning in the 1960s, Kalahari residents consumed the same number of species and the same proportions of small and large game as before, Yellen adds.
before Kung represents a click sound in the !Kung language.
At a pivotal 1966 conference, the Harvard anthropologists described !Kung society as relatively isolated, peaceful and sharing; for a few hours each day, men hunted and women gathered edible plants, after which they returned to their camps and pooled their resources.
The usefulness of the !Kung as evolutionary models is now under attack by a member of the original Harvard team.
The !Kung were explicitly selected as a topic of study to illuminate and illustrate the nature of hunting-gathering society in prehistory," Howell maintains.
The social turbulence of the 1960s also affected study of the !Kung, Howell contends.
Bushman groups such as the !Kung have interacted and traded with food-producing groups -- herders and agriculturalists -- for more than 2,000 years, reported James R.
European traders purchased ivory, feathers, horns and skins of animals slain by Bushmen -- including the !Kung -- for tobacco, beads and other goods, while leaving the meat to the Bushmen.
Lee, codirector of the original !Kung project and now at the University of Toronto, says Howell's version of the research is "extremely distorted" and the evidence in Schrire's book is largely unpersuasive.