hunting and gathering societies


Societies that rely primarily or exclusively on hunting wild animals, fishing, and gathering wild fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetables to support their diet. Until humans began to domesticate plants and animals about ten thousand years ago, all human societies were hunter-gatherers. Today, only a tiny fraction of the world's populations support themselves in this manner, and they survive only in isolated, inhospitable areas, such as deserts, the frozen tundra, and dense rain forests. Given the close relationship between hunter-gatherers and their natural environment, hunting and gathering tribes such as the Bushmen and the Pygmies may provide valuable information for anthropologists seeking to understand the development of human social structures.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.