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Hunting strategies in the central European Palaeolithic

Hunting strategies in the central European Palaeolithic
Hunting strategies in the central European Palaeolithic
It is now generally recognised that the activity known as hunting is a complex but predictable adaptation of small social units to the variable structure of the environment. In the last decade we have passed from the model of the hunter as a ‘catch-as-catch-can’ opportunist to an appreciation of his ability to exploit resources in both a systematic and efficient manner (Wilmsen 1973; Williams 1974; Jochim 1976). The investigation of how hunting decisions are made has led to a fuller appreciation of the component parts of this particular lifestyle, with the result that attention has shifted from technology, as the principal interest, to considerations of resource exploitation, demography, settlement location, interaction, and mating networks (Higgs 1976; Wobst 1974, 1976). In particular the differing adaptations of hunter-gatherer groups have been examined in relation to variations in the global ecosystem which shows a spatial succession of habitat types, grading from generalised to specialised, between the equatorial tropics and the arctic poles (Harris 1969; Yellen and Harpending 1972). While this is a most convenient framework for predicting many variable features of hunter-gatherer organisation, e.g. territory size and cultural patterning, its extreme generality obscures the options that exist within ecosystems at the smaller scale of local adaptation. Thus, far from confining hunting outcomes to broad eco-determinism, decisions made by hunting bands will be influenced by immediate features of the environment such as the location of grazing areas and the configurations of relief. The outcomes as seen in settlement patterns and demographic arrangements may well resemble, at a local level, the expected pattern as influenced by generalised environmental conditions, while viewed at a wider scale the prevailing environment might be highly specialised (Gamble 1978b, 181). The purpose of this paper is to examine, by means of a case study, a comparative structure for palaeolithic hunting strategies that involved the exploitation of large mammals.
0079-497X
35-52
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a
Gamble, Clive
1cbd0b26-ddac-4dc2-9cf7-59c66d06103a

Gamble, Clive (1979) Hunting strategies in the central European Palaeolithic. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 45, 35-52. (doi:10.1017/S0079497X00009646).

Record type: Article

Abstract

It is now generally recognised that the activity known as hunting is a complex but predictable adaptation of small social units to the variable structure of the environment. In the last decade we have passed from the model of the hunter as a ‘catch-as-catch-can’ opportunist to an appreciation of his ability to exploit resources in both a systematic and efficient manner (Wilmsen 1973; Williams 1974; Jochim 1976). The investigation of how hunting decisions are made has led to a fuller appreciation of the component parts of this particular lifestyle, with the result that attention has shifted from technology, as the principal interest, to considerations of resource exploitation, demography, settlement location, interaction, and mating networks (Higgs 1976; Wobst 1974, 1976). In particular the differing adaptations of hunter-gatherer groups have been examined in relation to variations in the global ecosystem which shows a spatial succession of habitat types, grading from generalised to specialised, between the equatorial tropics and the arctic poles (Harris 1969; Yellen and Harpending 1972). While this is a most convenient framework for predicting many variable features of hunter-gatherer organisation, e.g. territory size and cultural patterning, its extreme generality obscures the options that exist within ecosystems at the smaller scale of local adaptation. Thus, far from confining hunting outcomes to broad eco-determinism, decisions made by hunting bands will be influenced by immediate features of the environment such as the location of grazing areas and the configurations of relief. The outcomes as seen in settlement patterns and demographic arrangements may well resemble, at a local level, the expected pattern as influenced by generalised environmental conditions, while viewed at a wider scale the prevailing environment might be highly specialised (Gamble 1978b, 181). The purpose of this paper is to examine, by means of a case study, a comparative structure for palaeolithic hunting strategies that involved the exploitation of large mammals.

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More information

Published date: December 1979
Organisations: Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 391600
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/391600
ISSN: 0079-497X
PURE UUID: 86423569-f5d6-49b8-b477-5229cbac7f36

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Date deposited: 26 Apr 2016 14:19
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:22

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