The Revolutions of Agriculture,
10,000 b.c.e.–3000 b.c.e.
CHAPTER LEARNING OBJECTIVES
TO MAKE STUDENTS AWARE THAT AGRICULTURE EVOLVED INDEPENDENTLY IN SEVERAL REGIONS OF THE WORLD
To trace the development of agriculture and its local variations
To consider the social implications of the Agricultural Revolution
In the past two centuries, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of farmers worldwide.
United States an extreme case: only around 5 percent of Americans, many of them over 65 years old, were still on farms in 2000
great increase in the productivity of modern agriculture
The modern retreat from the farm is a reversal of humanity’s first turn to agriculture. II.
The Agricultural Revolution in World History
Agriculture is the second great human process after settlement of the globe.
started about 12,000 years ago
often called the Neolithic (New Stone Age) or Agricultural Revolution
deliberate cultivation of plants and domestication of animals
transformed human life across the planet
Agriculture is the basis for almost all human developments since.
Agriculture brought about a new relationship between humans and other living things.
actively changing what they found in nature rather than just using it
shaping the landscape
selectively breeding animals
“Domestication” of nature created new mutual dependence.
many domesticated plants and animals came to rely on humans
humans lost gathering and hunting skills
There was an “intensification” of living: getting more food and resources from much less land.
more food led to more people
more people led to greater need for intensive exploitation III.
Comparing Agricultural Beginnings
The Agricultural Revolution happened independently in several world regions.
Fertile Crescent of Southwest Asia
several areas in sub-Saharan Africa
eastern North America
all happened at about the same time, 12,000–4000 years ago
scholars have struggled with the question of why agriculture developed so late in human history
Agricultural Revolution coincided with the end of the last Ice Age
global warming cycle started around 16,000 years ago
Ice Age was over by about 11,000 years ago
end of Ice Age coincided with human migration across earth
extinction of some large mammals: climate change and hunting
warmer, wetter weather allowed more wild plants to flourish
gathering and hunting peoples had already learned some ways to manage the natural world
“broad spectrum diet”
development of sickles, baskets, and other tools to make use of wild grain in the Middle East
Amazon: peoples had learned to cut back some plants to encourage growth of the ones they wanted
Australians had elaborate eel traps
women were probably the agricultural innovators
gathering and hunting peoples started
to establish more permanent
especially in resource-rich areas
population growth perhaps led to a “food crisis”
agriculture developed in a number of regions, but with variation
depended on the plants and animals that were available
only a few hundred plant species have been domesticated
only fourteen large mammal species were domesticated
the Fertile Crescent was the first to have a full Agricultural Revolution
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