Ian Kuijt, my colleague here at Notre Dame, is an archaeologist who has specialized in the origins of agriculture, food storage, and the emergence of social inequality. He appeared in the PBS series Guns, Germs and Steel, based on the best-selling book by Jared Diamond. So it is my pleasure to present that particular clip from the PBS documentary , where Ian discusses the emergence of food storage, agricultural practices, and changes in social complexity.
The clip with Ian Kuijt is prefaced by segments one and two on You Tube. You can click here for all the clips (1-18) from the series. Ian also has a lot of good online material about the Dhra site itself.
In the documentary, Diamond argues for an ecological approach to human history, where local ecology, microbes and geography make a large difference in which societies demonstrate “progress” or “civilization.” There is a Wikipedia site on Guns, Germs and Steel, where both Diamond’s basic argument and some relevant criticisms are presented.
If you want something directly from the horse’s mouth, here is a short interview with Diamond. He also has a longer, but still accessible, essay over at Edge. And finally Diamond discusses why agriculture isn’t all that great for human health in this essay entitled The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race.