Nomadic Pastoralism as an "Adaptive Strategy" Article Review

Nomadic Pastoralism as an "Adaptive Strategy"
A review of Kamyar Abdi's article, "The Early Development of Pastoralism in the Central Zagros Mountains".
# 153969 | 4,450 words | 5 sources | 2014 | CA
Published by on Aug 06, 2014 in Anthropology (Pre-Historic)

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From the Paper:

"This article review examines the thesis put forward by Kamyar Abdi in his 2003 article, "The Early Development of Pastoralism in the Central Zagros Mountains," namely, that the practice of nomadic pastoralism originated in the Central Zagros Mountains as an "adaptive strategy" in response to the loss of grazing lands resulting from the expansion of agriculture occasioned by the marked increase in the local population of the region during the Middle and Late Chalcolithic. In support of this thesis, Abdi presents evidence gathered from the four seasons of archaeological fieldwork that he did in the area between 1998 and 2001. After presenting a summary of the article, the review undertakes a critical examination of Abdi's thesis, offering several arguments that cast doubt on Abdi's interpretation of his data, suggesting that Abdi appears to be pressing the evidence into the preset mould of his particular hypothesis. It then proceeds to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the article and concludes that Abdi could have done a better job of adapting his doctoral dissertation (which was written in the field of archaeology) for publication in ananthropological journal, namely, the Journal of World Prehistory.
"In this article, Abdi attempts to trace the shift from sedentism to nomadism in the Central Zagros Mountains, that is, the evolution of full-fledged nomadic pastoralism in the Late Chalcolithic period from earlier forms of subsistence, such as village-based agriculture and herding, whichhad emergedduring the early Neolithic period. Abdi takes the position that nomadic pastoralism was a later development than sedentary forms of food production, basing this conclusion onthe findings of thefour seasons of archaeological fieldwork that he conducted in the Islamabad Plain in the West CentralZagros Mountains between 1998 and 2001 for his doctoral degree at the University of Michigan. Abdi's analysis of settlement patterns in the region leads him to conclude that nomadic pastoralism developed as an "adaptive strategy" to deal with the expansion of agriculture brought about by an increase in the local population. He maintains that village-based herding became less and less viable as more and more land around the settlements came under cultivation and herders had to travel greater and greater distances to reach pasturelands, and this led to the rise of nomadic pastoralism."

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