Iain Banks has written a mixed bag of science fiction but, in general, Excession is one that I like. Excession carries this paragraph (actually, it's all one sentence except that it has a ... stuck in the middle. I think it's intended to be a continuous stream of visual ideas, but maybe not). Anyway, this was one of the bits I liked from the novel. The "Outside Context Problem" is what the novel is all about. The paragraph explains:
"The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests."
There do seem to be some inconsistencies there, but you get the idea.
This abstract appears to describe an OCP from the 18th century in what was destined to become southeastern USA. It certainly brought Banks' novel to my mind. The final line caught my eye, as it was supposed to.
"A reduced dietary breadth during the mission period may have contributed to the extinction of these populations in the eighteenth century"
Particularly the word extinction. So like excession.
John Hawkes has a post about the genetic changes in Europe between the origin of agriculture about 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Cresent and its arrival at the Western seaboard of Europe about 7,500 years ago.
In his classic essay "The Oil We Eat" Richard Manning cites archaeologists describing this rate of cultural spread as "blitzkrieg", specifically the leap across Western Europe in just 300 years.
This is the paper cited by Hawkes. The overwhelming impression I get is that mankind, the sort of mankind which had maintained a stable global population of around 10,000,000 for millenia, did NOT adopt agriculture. Agriculture was adopted by a subgroup of these humans. Agriculturalist genes then replaced those of hunter gatherers across Europe. I doubt the change was welcomed by the hunter gatherers.
Oh, and if Manning is correct, famine. Gift of agriculture.