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Hunter-Gatherer Foraging
Five Simple Models

By Robert L. Bettinger

Hunter-Gatherer Foraging
Paperback, 125 pages £25.00
Published: 2009
ISBN: 9780979773136
Format: 228mm x 152mm
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Subjects: Anthropology, Eliot Werner Publications

Within the last three decades, foraging theory has established itself as a major cornerstone for both archaeological and ethnographic hunter-gatherer research. Until now, however, no introductory treatment has presented the subject in a form that was quantitatively explicit and yet easy to follow. Designed as an introduction to undergraduate and graduate students new to the subject, and as a refresher for professionals seeking to broaden their command, Hunter-Gatherer Foraging: Five Simple Models presents the five foraging models that lend themselves best to hunter-gatherer application: diet breadth, linear programming, front- versus back-loaded resources, technological investment, and field processing. Each chapter begins with a hypothetical hunter-gatherer problem and takes the reader through the steps needed to state such problems in quantitative form and solve them. Exercises (with answers) at the end of each chapter reinforce key concepts and methodology.

From Reference and Research Book News . . .

'A pioneer of hunter-gatherer foraging theory, Robert Bettinger offers a primer on foraging models for students new to them, especially those with little mathematical training; he also addresses professional ethnographers, ethnologists, and archaeologists who know the principles but not the details of the models or how to apply them to specific cases. He covers diet breadth, optimal foraging with constraints (linear programming), front-loaded and back-loaded resources, technological investment, and field processing. All of these models have concrete test implications that invite application across a broad range of human behaviors. For each chapter he provides exercises and answers to them. There is no index.'

Chapter 1. How To Calculate Optimal Diet Breadth

Chapter 2. Optimal Foraging with Constraints: Linear Programming

Chapter 3. Front- and Back-Loaded Resources: Caching

Chapter 4. Technological Investment

Chapter 5. Field Processing II


'[A] fine volume that does just what it claims to. The style is informal, often humorous, and it will clearly work well in a classroom of advanced undergraduates or graduate students. The flow and clarity of the discussions almost makes one forget that this is math that they’re trying to master. . . . [A]nyone with a serious interest in hunter-gatherers, prehistoric subsistence, and resource provisioning will want to own a copy.' (Mark E. Basgall, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology)

'This book is the first of its kind to provide a suite of tools applicable to many ethnographic and archaeological foraging problems. Anyone . . . involved in human behavioral ecology should work through this book. It is certainly required reading for any student of the discipline, and as it finds its way into the classroom and onto the desks of practitioners, it is sure to become a classic.' (Brian F. Codding, California Archaeology)

'[A]n excellent primer on a group of models that . . . played an important role in the development of hunter-gatherer and ecological studies in anthropology . . . . The examples, sample problems, and touch of humor as the mod els are explained make the book ideal for use . . . with either advanced undergraduates, graduate students, or for anyone wishing for a quick reminder of the math behind the models.' (Susan K. Harris, American Antiquity)

'[A] laboratory manual to teach mathematical models to people interested in Optimal Foraging Theory. . . . [T]he book will be useful for graduate seminars to teach details of how foraging societies maximize returns in manipulating the variability in resources of their exploitation territories.' (Andrew B. Smith, Journal of Human Evolution)

'[T]his . . . small book . . . could be used well as an adjunct or ancillary text for a n umber of different courses in quantitative methods, hunter-gatherers, or foraging economy. . . . [I]t succeeds overall very well and very nicely in what it aims to do. (Robert Whallon, Journal of Anthropological Research)

'This book would make an excellent accompaniment to many anthropology and archaeology courses, both at high school and college levels. . . . There is a lot of well-written material crammed into this little book! I highly recommend it for anyone interested not only directly with hunter-gatherer research, but for anyone who wonders how-we-know what we think we know about ancient day-to-day life.' (Ira R. Wishoff, The Dirt Brothers http://dirtbrothers.org/)

Prepublication praise . . .
'This volume presents exercises designed to convey foraging models in a hands-on manner. An excellent resource for upper-division undergraduate and graduate-level classes focused on topics ranging from analytical models in anthropology/archaeology to hunter-gatherers.' (Gary M. Feinman,The Field Museum)

'Anyone who has tried to teach students the various models used in behavioral ecology will find this book a welcome relief. Written by an authority who understands both theory and application, the book's examples and exercises show the models' potentials and limitations. As a step-by-step guide, it is an indispensable supplement to a variety of classes.' (Robert L. Kelly, University of Wyoming)

'A compact, consistently informative, and exemplary primer for beginners and experts alike. Bettinger's inviting and lucid style, multiple examples, and transparent math will make this short book an instant classic, the well-worn companion of anyone interested in prehistoric subsistence and lifeways.' (Bruce Winterhalder, University of California, Davis)

Robert L. Bettinger, University of California, Davis, Davis, California

Publication Details:

 Paperback , 125 pages
 228mm x 152mm

BIC Code:
  SOC002010, SOC003000
 Eliot Werner Publications


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