Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Discuss the concept of geographical determinism. How did the geographical factors influence the human settlement and subsistence pattern in the pre-historic times?

Geographical determinism is the theory that human habitats and characteristics of a particular culture are shaped by the geographical conditions. The theory encompasses all environmental and geographical conditions and their impact n the socio-economic and political forces of a society. Physical features and the environmental conditions that may appear unfavorable at one state may prove to be potentially useful later. 
Paleolithic age at the final state saw the evolution of Homo-sapien. Most of the Paleolithic sites are located throughout India, except for Gangetic basin and Kerala coast, due to presence of rocky hills and caves. Ex: Belan valley (UP). This age man was food hunter and food gatherer because of Pleistocene age that did not facilitate abundant growth of fauna and flora. He lived in small bands consisting close-knit family and led a nomadic life.

With the onset of Holocene Age, Mesolithic culture began and icecaps melted forming Rivers as an effect of global warming. As the climate became favorable, Mesolithic man started domestication of animals and a partially settled life enabled by superior technology microliths tools. Subsequently, in neolithic age man practiced mixed economy, however by shifting cultivation only. Village settlements emerged as the neolithic man led a settle life. The pit dwellings found at Burzahom, Kashmir indicate that extreme cold conditions prevailed in Kashmir valley. Cultivation of rice, wheat and barley by slash and burn methods is observed in Neolithic sites generally.

The chalcolithic culture is characterized by the copper-stone tools and existence of large village settlements. A variety of food crops were grown and along with domestication of more animals. The pastoral farming even gained more importance. Potteries of delicate artistic versions were manufactured.

The rise and decline of human habitats since ages has been predominantly influenced by the geographical factors. The limits set by the nature are conquered by the human experience and technology. This is an ongoing process which continuously enhances the realm of human experience and expands the frontier of man’s control of environment. In conclusion, geographical determinism can be powerful enough to determine mankind’s prosperity or perish otherwise.

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