为什么人类花了这么长时间来创造文明?现代智人(Homosapiens)最早在约25万到35万年前进化而来。但是,标志着人类向文明迈出第一步的采收和农作物驯化,大约在1万年前才开始,而最早的文明在约6400年前才出现。

Why did humans take so long to create civilization? Modern Homo sapiens first evolved about 250,000 to 350,000 years ago. However, it marks the first step towards civilization, the harvest and the domestication of crops, which began some 10,000 years ago, when the earliest civilization emerged some 6,400 years ago.

  在人类95%的历史中,我们没有耕种,没有建立起大型聚落,也没有形成复杂的政治等级制度。我们生活在游牧的小群体里,过着狩猎采集的生活。然后,有些事情发生了变化。

In 95% of human history, we have not cultivated, built large settlements, or formed complex political hierarchies. We live in small nomadic groups and live a life of hunting and gathering. Then something changed.

  我们从狩猎采集生活过渡到植物采收,开始了耕种,最后发展出了城市。值得注意的是,这种转变是在冰河时代的巨型动物消失之后——也就是在猛犸象、大地懒和巨型的鹿还有马的灭绝之后,才开始发生。人类开始耕种的原因仍然不清楚,但或许是因为我们赖以生存的动物的消失,迫使人类文明开始进化。

We moved from hunter-gatherer life to plant harvesting, began farming, and eventually developed cities. It's worth noting that the transformation began after the disappearance of the ice age megafauna - that is, after the extinction of mammoths, earth sloths and giant deer and horses. The reason why humans started farming remains unclear, but perhaps because the disappearance of the animals on which we live forced human civilization to begin to evolve.

  早期人类已经具备耕种能力。现代人的所有族群都拥有基本同等的智力水平,这表明我们的认知能力在大约30万年前,在不同人群在进化之路上分道扬镳前,就已经进化完成了,而之后也几乎没有变化。那些没有开始种植植物的祖先,并不是因为他们不够聪明,而是受到了环境中某些东西的阻止,或者是他们根本不需要。

Early humans were already capable of farming. All groups of modern humans have essentially the same level of intelligence, suggesting that our cognitive abilities evolved about 300,000 years ago, before different populations split on the evolutionary path, and then barely changed. Those ancestors who did not start planting plants were not because they were not smart enough, but were stopped by something in the environment, or they did not need it at all.

  11700年前,末次冰期结束,全球的升温可能使得耕种变得更加容易。由于气温升高,植物的生长季节延长,降雨量增加,气候也趋于长期稳定,全球更多地区变得适合耕种。但问题在于,在此之前的地球不太可能处处都不适宜耕种。而且地球此前也曾经历过许多次这样的变暖,万年前、20万年前,还有万年前,但早期的变暖事件并没有刺激人们尝试耕种。因此,气候变化不会是耕种唯一的驱动力。

When the last ice age ended 11700 years ago, global warming could make farming easier. Because of rising temperatures, growing seasons, increasing rainfall and long-term climate stability, more parts of the world have become suitable for farming. But the problem is that until then the earth is unlikely to be cultivated everywhere. And the planet has experienced such warming many times before, thousands of years ago,200,000 years ago, but early warming has not spurred attempts at farming. Therefore, climate change will not be the only driving force for farming.

  人类迁徙可能也有影响。当人类从非洲南部扩张到整个非洲大陆,又进入亚洲、欧洲和美洲时,他们发现了新的环境,以及那里可当作食物的新的植物。但人们到达这些地区的时间远远早于耕种的开始,植物驯化的出现要比人类迁徙晚了几万年。

Human migration may also have an impact. As humans expanded from southern Africa to the entire continent and into Asia, Europe and America, they discovered new environments and new plants that could be used as food. But people arrived in these areas far earlier than the beginning of farming, and plant domestication emerged tens of thousands of years later than human migration.

  与觅食相比,农业有明显的劣势。农业需要付出更多,人们的休闲时间也会减少,有时饮食质量也会下降。如果狩猎者早上饿了,他们晚上就可以在火上烤吃东西。而今天耕种的辛勤劳动,需要几个月后才能获得回报,又或者最后颗粒无收。而且农业还意味着需要对暂时的余粮进行储存管理,确保可以满足人们一年四季的需要。

Compared with foraging, agriculture has obvious disadvantages. Agriculture needs to pay more, people's leisure time will be reduced, and sometimes the quality of diet will also decline. If the hunters are hungry in the morning, they can roast food on the fire at night. Today's hard work takes a few months to pay off, or end up empty. Moreover, agriculture also means the need for the management of temporary surplus food to ensure that it meets the needs of people throughout the year.

  如果一位猎人今天一无所获,他明天还可以再出门打猎,也可以去别处寻找猎物更多的地方。但与土地息息相关的农民却只能任由变幻无常的自然的摆布。雨水来得太早或太晚,干旱、霜冻、枯萎病或蝗灾,都会导致农作物歉收,甚至出现饥荒。

If a hunter finds nothing today, he can go hunting again tomorrow or go elsewhere to find more prey. But land-related farmers are left at the mercy of the fickle nature. Rain comes too early or too late, and drought, frost, blight or locust infestation can lead to crop failure and even famine.

  从军事角度来说,农业也有缺点。狩猎采集者更为灵活,他们可以长途跋涉出击或撤退。他们的日常离不开矛和弓箭这些武器,日常生活就使他们成了英勇的战士。但农民扎根在田地里,他们的作息时间由季节而定,生活十分固定,而他们的食物储备又吸引着饥饿的外来者。

From a military perspective, agriculture also has shortcomings. Hunter-gatherers are more flexible and can travel long distances to strike or retreat. Their day-to-day lives have made them valiant warriors, with weapons such as spears and arrows. But farmers take root in the fields, their schedules are seasonal, their lives are fixed, and their food reserves appeal to hungry outsiders.

  人类或许天性就喜欢成为游牧的猎人,从而把狩猎当成一种生活方式。科曼奇部落的印第安人为了保持他们狩猎的生活方式奋战至死。非洲南部卡拉哈里的布须曼人,始终抗拒被变成农民和牧民。除此之外更令人惊奇的是,当波利尼西亚的农民在新西兰遇到许多不会飞的鸟时,他们基本上放弃了农业,创造了毛利人的狩猎文化。

Perhaps human nature likes to become a nomadic hunter, thus hunting as a way of life. The Comanche Indians fought to the death to keep their hunting lifestyle alive. In southern Africa, the Basumans of Kalahari have always resisted being turned into farmers and pastoralists. In addition, it is even more surprising that when Polynesian farmers meet many flightless birds in New Zealand, they have largely abandoned agriculture and created a Maori hunting culture.

  但事情发生了变化。从一万年前开始,人类多次放弃狩猎采集的生活方式,开始耕种。或许是从更新世起,猛犸象和其他大型动物陆续灭绝,又过度捕猎了生存下来的动物之后,狩猎采集的生活方式变得没那么容易,迫使人们采收并种植植物。也许,文明的诞生并非源于进步的动力,而是灾难,是生态灾难迫使人们放弃了传统的生活方式。

But things have changed. Since 10,000 years ago, humans have repeatedly abandoned the hunting-gathering lifestyle and begun farming. Perhaps from the Pleistocene, after the extinction of mammoths and other large animals and the overhunting of surviving animals, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle became less easy, forcing people to harvest and grow plants. Perhaps the birth of civilization did not stem from the impetus of progress, but from the disaster, which forced people to abandon their traditional way of life.

  随着人类离开非洲前往新大陆,我们踏上的每一个地方都伴随着大型动物的消失。几乎无一例外。在欧洲和亚洲,长毛犀牛、猛犸象和爱尔兰麋鹿等大型动物在大约1万到4万年前消失了。在澳大利亚,巨型袋鼠和袋熊在46000年前消失了。在北美,马、骆驼、巨型犰狳、猛犸象和地懒从11500年前到15000年前逐渐减少和消失,随后在8000到14000年前在南美洲灭绝。当人类踏足加勒比群岛、马达加斯加、新西兰和大洋洲后,那些地方的大型动物群也随之消失。

As humans leave Africa for the New World, every place we set foot on is accompanied by the disappearance of large animals. Almost without exception. In Europe and Asia, large animals such as woolly rhinos, mammoths and Irish moose disappeared about 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. In Australia, giant kangaroos and wombats disappeared 46000 years ago. In North America, horses, camels, giant armadillos, mammoths and ground sloths gradually decreased and disappeared from 11,500 years ago to 15,000 years ago, and then became extinct in South America 8,000 to 14,000 years ago. When humans stepped on the Caribbean Islands, Madagascar, New Zealand and Oceania, the large fauna of those regions also disappeared.

  捕猎马、骆驼和大象等大型猎物,自然比猎取兔子这样的小型猎物回报更丰厚。但大型动物的繁殖时间往往更长,与小型动物相比,它们的后代更少,因此更容易受到过度捕猎的影响。无论我们人类走到哪里,都能凭借自己的聪明才智,用投矛器打猎,借助火将动物聚集起来,将动物逼到悬崖边,这意味着我们捕杀大型动物的速度比它们自身繁殖的速度要快得多。这可以说是第一次可持续性危机。

Hunting large prey like horses, camels and elephants is naturally more rewarding than hunting small prey like rabbits. But large animals tend to breed longer and have fewer offspring than small animals and are therefore more vulnerable to overhunting. Wherever we humans go, we can hunt with spear throwers with our own ingenuity, gather animals with the aid of fire, and push them to the edge of a cliff, meaning we kill large animals much faster than they reproduce themselves. This is arguably the first sustainability crisis.

  随着以往的生活方式不再可行,人类可能被迫创新,越来越注重采收,通过种植植物来满足生存需要。这导致了人类数量增加。相较于以肉类为食,以植物为食是一种更有效的土地利用方式,因此在同一地区耕种比打猎能养活更多的人。人们可以一直定居在那里,建立聚落,然后走向文明。

As previous lifestyles are no longer feasible, humans may be forced to innovate, paying more and more attention to harvesting and planting plants to meet survival needs. This has led to an increase in the human population. Feeding on plants is a more efficient way of land use than feeding on meat, so farming in the same area can feed more people than hunting. People can settle there all the time, build settlements, and then go to civilization.

  考古和化石记录告诉我们,我们的祖先本早就可以开始耕种,但他们却只在别无选择之后才开始这样做。我们本可能会一直猎杀马和猛犸象,但我们实在太在行了,很可能最后亲手毁掉了自己的食物供应。

Archaeological and fossil records tell us that our ancestors could have started farming long ago, but they did so only after they had no choice. We might have hunted horses and mammoths all the time, but we were so good that we probably ended up destroying our own food supplies.

  农业和文明的出现并不是因为它们改善了我们祖先的生活方式,而是因为我们别无选择。当我们的消耗超过生态系统所能承受的时候,农业是我们背水一战的抗争。如果是这样的话,我们放弃了冰河时代猎人的生活,开始创造现代世界,并不是有远见而有意为之,而仅仅是一种偶然,因为几千年前我们亲手创造了一场生态灾难。

Agriculture and civilization did not emerge because they improved the way our ancestors lived, but because we had no choice. When we consume more than the ecosystem can afford, agriculture is our backlash. If so, it's not visionary and intentional to abandon the life of ice-age hunters and start creating the modern world, but just a fluke, because we personally created an ecological disaster thousands of years ago.

  撰文:NickLongrich(巴斯大学古生物学与进化生物学高级讲师)原文标题为“Howtheextinctionoficeagemammalsmayhaveforcedustoinventcivilisation”,于2019年12月20日首发于TheConversation,原文链接:https:///how-the-extinction-of-ice-age-mammals-may-have-forced-us-to-invent-civilisation-128799,中文内容仅供参考,一切内容以原文为准。

Writing: Nick Longrich (Senior Lecturer in Paleontology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Bath) Original titled \"Howtheextinctionoficeagemammalsmayhaveforcedustoinventcivilisation \", first published on December 20,2019 in The Conversation, original link: https:\/\/\/how-the-extraction-of-ice-age-mammals-may-have-forced-us-to-invent-civiation-128799, Chinese content for reference only, all in the original text.


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