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Sedentism

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Reconstructed Pit Dwelling, Sannai Maruyama

Reconstructed Pit Dwelling, Sannai Maruyama

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Definition:

Sedentism is the term archaeologists use to describe the process of settling down to live in groups for periods of time. Settling down, picking a place and living in it for part of the year, is partially but not entirely related to how a group gets required resources--food and stone for tools and wood for housing and fires.

For example, hunter gatherers, by and large, were primarily mobile, moving from resource to resource, following herds of animals such as bison and reindeer or moving with normal seasonal climatic changes. By contrast, farmers tended to stay close to their fields for at least part of the year. Sedentism refers to that process of becoming more sedentary, no matter how one earns one's living.

Sources

This glossary entry is a part of the About.com Guide to the Characteristics of Ancient Civilizations, Ancient Farming, and part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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