Archive for April, 2006

I always wondered why the biblical folks in Genesis lived so long. Adam, 930 years, Methusela, 969, Seth, 912, Jared, 962, and so on. Then folks born after about 1750 B.C.E. started living only as long as we do.

Was there some virus that caused people to die early? Did God decide that people were living too long and the world would get crowded? What phenomenon could cause this sudden biblical gerontological phenomenon?


The size of a person’s world is only as big as the area that is known. Hunter-gatherers knew the area of the range of their game and where the good food was. Strangers would occasionally come by and tell tales of far away places. Generally, however, early man’s world extended only 20 to 40 km.

When agriculture became prevalent, that tied man to an even smaller area. One would not generally venture more than the distance that you could walk in one day and still return before night. This was because the domestic animals had to be tended, and it was dangerous to be out at night. There was little support for travelers – no hotels, no restaurants. Humankind was focused on the tribe or village. Those folks served as an extended family for support. The range of bronze age agricultural man was even less, perhaps only 10 or 20 km. Travel outside that range was usually to make war on a neighboring tribe.