Hermes, thanks for a well-reasoned and balanced article. This is a topic upon which everyone and their dog has an opinion, and naturally people tend to dismiss evidence that contradicts their cherished beliefs. This is especially true for those whose wishful thinking about a “time before agriculture, before the patriarchy” tends to color their perception of the available evidence. This approach is, as you note, merely another version of “the good old days” — a nostalgic delusion to which we seem always to have been unduly prone. But “wishing doesn’t make it so” and the preponderance of evidence seems to point in the opposite direction. It’s clear, however, that this is a domain in which the sparseness of hard evidence will ensure that contention between the “noble savage” group and the “bestial violent” group remains a perpetual feature.

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