On May 21st, Graeme Barker, Disney Professor and Director of the McDonald Institute, delivered the Golson Lecture at the Australian National University, the title being 'Why Did Our Ancestors Become Farmers?'
The talk explored reasons for the transition from hunting and gathering to farming, for example: Did our ancestors choose to experiment with domesticating plants and animals and, if so, why? Were they pushed into becoming farmers by forces beyond their control like climate change or population pressure? How important were hard-to-study things like ritual, ideology and religion? It also looked at how understanding has been transformed in recent decades by new scientific approaches, new archaeological theories and unexpected discoveries, which are relevant for the sustainability of the present-day agricultural systems on which we depend.
To view the lecture http://www.arch.cam.ac.uk/research/videos