1. Man-Land Relations in Early History

Ancient records show that, in the beginning, tribes and clans organized life and exercised control over the area they had taken possession of. Survival of the group was the main goal, and the emerging relations between man and land were meant to support this goal. The group defended the territory it had occupied against others, so that the members had the exclusive right to hunt and fish. This right of the conqueror was the first land right. The group allotted land to individual families for their utilization. After a period of hunting and gathering, cultivation of land started. In the beginning, mainly riverbanks and similar easily cultivable areas were used. In a later period, the invention of brass and iron made it possible to produce tools and to clear jungles, thus developing agriculture to a stage, at which yields sometimes exceeded subsistence requirements.

The custom, according to which whoever cleared a plot of the unlimited jungle had the right to use that land, developed into a new land right, the right of the first clearer.

Need for mutual help in the strenuous clearing work, defence of the cleared land and repeated use of that land year after year led, in the course of time, to the formation of villages which assumed the regulation of land rights. Strong families were able to cultivate more land than others and produced a surplus over subsistence requirements, i.e. control over more land meant greater wealth for the family. Differences in the areas of cultivated land caused a differentiation within the society.

The example of India:

In ancient history, tribes exercised control over the land they had taken possession of, especially regarding its delimitation and defense. The tribe allotted land to the individual families which these utilized, usually for shifting cultivation. At that time, the countryside was covered by the jungle, and whoever cleared a plot in the jungle had the right to use it as long as he wanted. Only in the case of abandonment did the power of disposition revert to the tribe.

The hard work of clearing the land required the families' mutual help. This as well as small defense measures and the increase in the number of families led, in the course of time, to the formation of villages which assumed the regulation of land rights. They consisted of a group of families who had acquired land rights for having cleared the land. In these cases, the claims of the families were limited to the cleared land, while the uncultivated land in the vicinity was utilized jointly, but no claim was made to it. In other villages, land rights were held jointly, i.e. the village community claimed the right to the whole land within the village boundaries and allotted it to individual families for utilization. This was exercised by a village council.

Thus, while there were individual as wall as joint land rights at that time already, these rights were a privilege granting inheritable utilization rights and included social obligations, especially taking into consideration the village communities' interests.

The exemple of Korea:

In Korea, life in early times was seminomadic with clan communities organizing life collectively to guarantee livelihood and protection. Agriculture was limited to easily cultivable river beds, until bras and iron were introduced from China around 500 B.C., and oxen, cows, silk and rice were also introduced. This led to an increase in productivity in agriculture so that a small family system was sufficient to assure subsistence and replaced the larger clan community. An emerging surplus over subsistence requirements made some families richer than other ones. This differentiation went on: to control more land meant greater wealth, and individual families united to form tribes which tried to conquer land and take prisoners to work as slaves. Tribal chiefs could secure more land and became richer. Thus, while land was always controlled by groups, the technological development in agriculture brought about a stratification in the former egalitarian society.