Samuel Bowles

Paper #: 15-06-015

The property rights ideally suited for farming differed from those that were well adapted to mobile hunting and gathering, raising the question: How did this new institution emerge in the places where farming was first practiced? I survey the current archaeological evidence on the political, social, and economic institutions of the first populations that adopted farming in southwest Asia. While collective decision making was evidently practiced (as it is in foraging populations), there is little evidence consistent with the conjecture that the imposition and then enforcement of a new system of property rights was carried out by an extractive political elite.