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For legal scholars, the evolution of property rights has been a topic in search of a theory. My aim here is to draw together various accounts (some of them largely neglected in the legal literature), from dated to modern, and suggest a way they can be melded into a plausible explanation of property's genesis and early development. What results hardly amounts to a theory, but it does suggest an outline for one. Moreover, it provides a primer on the subject, a reasonably solid foundation for thinking and talking about the evolution of property rights.