NewsThe Science of Inequality

The ancient roots of the 1%

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  23 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6186, pp. 822-825
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.822

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Researchers long blamed farming for the rise of inequality. They hypothesized that agriculture led to the production of surpluses and elites who controlled those surpluses. Now, archaeological and ethnographic analyses suggest that some ancient hunter-gatherers may have accumulated wealth by taking control of concentrated patches of wild foods. In this view, it is the ownership of small, resource-rich areas—rather than farming itself—that fosters inequality.