Born nomad

Basile Samel
Nov 7, 2018 · 2 min read
Tuareg people

This post is part of my 200 words per day challenge that I am sharing publicly on Twitter in order to improve my writing and develop a writing routine. Feel free to join and comment.

Hominization is an interesting process to study in order to understand the relationship between nomadism and mankind.

The Hominid species is born 20 million years ago. It develops the concept of culture, unprecedented in the animal kingdom, and reflected not only by cave paintings and sculptures constituting a primitive form of art, but also by funeral rituals indicating a spiritual awareness: ritualizing death is an attempt to control it.

Humans are animals driven to tame their environments: they domesticate fire and give birth to languages in an attempt to designate objects encountered while traveling or used in everyday life. This domestication of time and space enables us to evolve, not only as an individual, but also as a species: the Homo Sapiens appears two hundred thousand years ago in Africa.

This whole time, the different populations of hominids were all entirely nomad.

The act of moving, eased by bipedalism, was either compelled by an instinct to survive — to look for food or to run away from conflicts — or out of sheer curiosity, the lifetime of a human at the time being 20 years in average. With distance, communities and cultures evolve and become more diverse: human beings evolved thanks to travel.

Meanwhile, people on the move start exchanging and bartering: it is the birth of the market economy. In parallel, the housing structures become more and more hard-wearing to protect their inhabitants from the hardships of the weather. Hunter-gatherers learn to grow vegetables and grains by diversifying their gene pools:the concept of agriculture. Nomads become peasants, and later, farmers and sheperds. Sedentarization started around 9000 years ago. Sedentism is thus an incredibly tiny fraction of our long history:

Mankind is born nomad.

Nowadays, the historical nomads as I call them are but a tiny portion of our overall population. With the rise of new forms of nomadism (digital nomadism being only one among others), maybe it is time to ask ourselves how to go back to our nomad roots.

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