Mixed Harvest: Stories from the Human Past by Rob Swigart is a lovely book, which explores the transition of humankind from being hunter-gatherers to agricultural societies. It’s hard to place it in a genre: is it non–fiction? Historical fiction? Historical non-fiction?
It is a short story collection with stories that tell how human beings slowly evolved, changed and learned about their world. Every story adds new elements to the overarching theme, from religion to art, tribes to city-states.
I enjoyed the archaeological facts that start and end every chapter as well as the charming stories. I can definitely recommend Mixed Harvest to anybody interested in prehistory and human development.
Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
After millennia of wandering the earth with little impact, a universal, if inadvertent transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and pastoralism was complete within a period of a few thousand years. Mixed Harvest tells the story of the Sedentary Divide, the most significant event since modern humans emerged. Before the Sedentary Divide, humans followed their food; afterward, everything the human diet had abandoned wild foods by domesticating, and irrevocably changing, plants and animals, staying in one place and keeping them close. Agriculture was so successful that religious and social belief systems evolved to enforce social inequality, exploitation of resources, constrained gender relations, and increasingly devastating conflict.