Characteristics of Pastoral and Agrarian Societies
Pastoral or Herding societies are characterized by domestication of animals.
They first appeared about 12,000 to 15,000 years ago. These societies are
typically found in mountainous regions and in areas with insufficient rainfall
to support horticultural and agrarian societies. Most of these societies have
secondary means of subsistence - usually small scale horticulture or
agriculture. True pastoral societies are rare today.
Pastoral communities are usually small (average size 72) with several dozen
communities forming a society with a total population of approximately 6,000.
- Most (90%) are nomadic. In desert areas they travel from water hole to water
hole. In mountain areas they move up and down the terrain as the weather
Stratification and social status is based on the size of one's herd. These societies are very patriarchal (male dominated) in customs. Women have very few rights. Newly married couples are likely to live with the husbandís family.
The first agrarian societies appeared about 6,000 years ago with the invention of the plow. The important of the plow was that it
Size and density - Agrarian societies were larger and more dense than previous societies. They could support over 100,000 people with densities of over 100 people per square mile. Modern agrarian societies often have rapidly expanding populations.
Agrarian societies were the first societies to develop cities. Farming allowed
people, for the first time, to be able to be born, live to be an adult, and die
in the same place. The surplus food also allowed a small portion of the people
to live in cities where they were not directly involved with food production.
Social institutions. Agrarian societies developed more elaborate and complex institutions.
is very extreme. Possibly highest of all societies for both class and sex.
Other - There is a decrease in head-hunting, cannibalism and human sacrifices. Life is very hard. Improvements in transportation increase trade and production.