small rural population unit, held together by common economic and political ties. Based on agricultural production, a village is smaller than a town and has been the normal unit of community living in most areas of the world throughout history.
The Village Community
The village community consists of a group of people, possibly linked by blood, using land, sometimes held communally, for cultivation and pasturage. This community, noted in the history of many cultures, is thought to have originated in the area of present-day Iraq and Iran, and its establishment seems to have paralleled the transformation of tribal life from nomadic hunting to stable agriculture. Although innumerable variations in patterns of village life have existed, the typical village was small, consisting of perhaps 5 to 30 families. Homes were situated together for sociability and defense, and land surrounding the living quarters was farmed. This farmland might extend for as much as a mile (1.6 km) and was generally parceled out in varying proportions to each family. There were also woods and meadows used for pasturage, firewood, and hunting, which were often held in common.
In ancient times the village was largely self-sufficient, but with the development of the town and city the village became more integrated economically and politically with the larger society. At one time there was a great debate amongst anthropologists as to whether villages arose out of the independent settlement of a kindred group that held property communally or whether they were established by a hierarchal authority such as the Roman Empire, in which land was controlled privately or by the state. Today it is generally agreed that there may have been separate and different origins of the village, each ar