Dr. Fred Wendorf was an anthropologist of great prominence during the 20th century. Wendorf’s work at Wadi Kubbaniya in Egypt cast into doubt many of the traditional theories on what many believe to be the greatest technological revolution in history; the rise of civilization as early humans turned from hunting and gathering to domestication of both plants and animals. Wendorf begins by describing the traditional view of this revolution. The accepted theory of the day was that as populations of early humans began to grow around the end of the last ice age, the land became incapable of supporting them, and so humans were forced to cultivate food.
This increase in food supply brought about further increase in population which lead to increased farming and then villages, governments, writing, and all that is civilization. Concerning his excavations, however, Wendorf states that he has discovered evidence of humans farming 7,000-8,500 years before the last ice age ended. He goes on to add that this evidence suggests that these early humans both farmed while migrating, hunting and gathering. In short, the textbooks were wrong! Farming did not exactly mark the beginning of civilization. It was in existence thousands of years before Egyptians constructed the Great Pyramids or wrote hieroglyphics. Wendorf sums up his research by stating “there does not…appear to be any single ’cause’ for the beginning of agriculture” (Wendorf, 73). Wendorf is concluding that agriculture happened naturally over thousands of years, it happened in stages, and that it was only a piece out of many that birthed civilization.
Wendorf’s findings are a perfect example of the changing nature of history, which in some respects is fluid, constantly changing with the discovery of new information and the ever-evolving perspective of the people and cultures who study it.
Written by Aaron George: Word count -299 not including the header or the text below.
For more information on the life and times of Dr. Fred Wendorf, please visit the link above. The article is well written and describes the world Dr. Wendorf lived in as well as the contributions he made. The website also includes an interview of Dr.Wendorf by the Archaeology Channel.