I can resist anything, except temptation! (Oscar Wilde)

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Paul Shepard

Eden was no garden

in human ecology

Two probable sources of the inception of “Garden of Eden”. One was the comparison between the emerging farming culture with the previous hunter gatherer one and the other was the increasing contrast between the ease of childhood and the burden of adulthood indicated that there must have been a good lost world; hunter-gatherers were living in it… children temporarily live in it…. In Shepard (1998)[1] words:

“… to the hunter, much of what he had seemed given; to the farmer, earned by continuing labor. For the farmer the contrast between the ease of childhood and the burdens of maturity had increased. For him there was a lost, more perfect world, the images of which were enhanced by his awareness of this contrast.”

According to Calder (ibid.):

“The garden image of paradise is apparently a debased figure, in which the cultures of husbandry described a lost world, using the best landscape images they knew. But “Adam” means “red” and has to do with men of the red uplands soils rather than the black cultivated ones. Geographically, Eden was a steppe plateau, the home of hunters and gathers. The yearning that the myth first expressed must have been that of disillusioned tillers of the soil for a long-lost life of freedom and relative ease. Eventually the urban ideology of civilization, in which men defined themselves by contrast to wild savages, made the nomadic image untenable…. Eden was no garden, but it was a gathering paradise.” (Calder, 1967)[2]

  1. Shepard, P., 1998. Nature and madness. University of Georgia Press. 

  2. Calder, N., 1967. Eden Was No Garden: an Inquiry Into the Environment of Man, First Edition. ed. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 

From nomadic foraging to sedentary village life

in human ecology

Shift from hunter-gatherer to initial forms of village life demanded different style of consciousness: emergence of sedentary village life from nomadic foraging… Changes in thought, perceptions of the outer and inner world, and premises and assumptions … These shifts have to do with the quality of attention rather than ideas; with the significance of place rather than the identity of nations; with the theme of duality; with the subtle effects of food and trophic patterns on thought and expression; with the accumulation of made things and possessions that was part of village life; and, finally, with some of the subtler influences of domestication on the ways people saw themselves and the land, as well as their plants and animals.[1]


  1. Shepard, P., 1998. Nature and madness. University of Georgia Press. 

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