nothing unusual about hunter-gatherers in this respect. Settled agricultural populations also experience such difficulties, and often to an even greater extent.
Moreover, prehistoric hunter-gatherers seem to have been better nourished than prehistoric agricultural populations. Cohen and George Armelagos (1984) have summarized the findings from paleopathological studies – studies examining evidence of biological stress and disease in ancient skeletal and dental remains – carried out by over a dozen biological anthropologists. These studies were carried out on remains from virtually all major regions of the world covering the time period after 30,000 B.P. Most of the studies found that infection was a more frequent and severe problem for farming populations than for hunter-gatherers. Chronic malnutrition was also more common in agricultural populations. Indicators of biological stresses leading to the disruption of childhoold growth told basically the same story.
If hunter-gatherers generally enjoy adequate diets, how long and hard do they have to work to obtain them? A good deal of evidence suggests that many such groups work neither hard nor long. Reviewing data collected on the subsistence activities of the hunter-gatherers of Arnhem Land in northern Australia, Sahlins (1972) notes that these people do not work hard or continuously, that the subsistence quest is highly intermittent, and that plenty of spare time is available. Along the same lines, Lee (1979) has calculated that the typical !Kung adult spends an average of only 17 hours per week in direct food-getting activities. Woodburn (1968) has shown that the Hadza obtain sufficient food with relative ease, and that life for them is anything but a difficult struggle for existence. His impression is that they spend less time and energy obtaining subsistence than do their agricultural neighbors.