Agriculture of the Mayas and the Ancient Egyptians

Topics: Agriculture, Maya civilization, Civilization Pages: 8 (2576 words) Published: April 19, 2012
Agriculture of the Mayas and the Ancient Egyptians

Agriculture is in the heart of any great civilization, which in turn, erects great empires. The origins of empires all stem down to smaller pieces of civilizations. It is responsible for feeding and sustaining the vastness of great empires. Of course, one has to find a suitable place to harvest or hunt for food. Agriculture differs from one civilization to the next but it is all essentially important. Egyptians were actually a population consisting mainly of farmers. Mayans were no exception – they focused on agricultural needs and therefore developed advanced technology in that area.

Agriculture is made up of many factors like water, soil, or landscape. A civilization needs to know how to cultivate crops first off because there are many ways in which one can take a plant. Different tools can be used for different crops and that highlights the start of a civilization. Then comes hunting, which is unique to each culture since the land provides certain animals for food and it is up to the population to decide which animal is most preferred and should be hunted for the most. After farming and hunting animals, the civilization decides what foods are more preferable and next time they would go for those crops or animals. This brings the civilization to domesticate preferable animals and grow preferable crops. It is a mix of mother nature and the preference of the civilization.

The Egypt civilization developed in one of the largest dry desert areas in the world – larger than the whole of Europe. It would have been a miracle if people could settle there. People were able to inhabit it only possible because of the Nile River which crosses an almost rainless desert from south to north carrying the waters of Lake Victoria more than 3000 miles to the Mediterranean Sea. In ancient times, Egypt settled in the last 700 miles of this waterway.

The land of Egypt had a poor variety of plants – there were very few trees. The wild fig and the acacia was the only common forest trees and they grow in a isolated fashion. There are also fruit trees such as the date and dom palms and the fig tree. Less trees meant that wood was scarce as well. It was less convenient for Egypt. In the dry conditions of the desert, there was a barely any plants, herbs or vegetables. It is miraculous how the Egyptians formed a culture with this poor agriculture.

On the other hand, Mayans lived in the land of Mesoamerica, which had plentiful trees and resources. In their land, the animals were abundant and the climate was favorable. However, the Mayans had a great population of people and this meant that they would need a lot of food. Sustaining this large population meant that good farming methods would be necessary.

Farming methods play an important part in agriculture. Some civilizations are more complex than others. However, advanced technology does not always win in agriculture. Sometimes, the good old common sense method will bring more to the table than intense and vicious cultivation. The way people cultivate crops will also reflect in their tools and becomes part of their culture.

Agricultural technology depends on the land. The civilization can choose to be hostile or gentle depending on how much resources is available. The Mayans had a enormous amount of resources, therefore, Mayan farmers were aggressive on the land. They took on a method of swiden (shifting cultivation), which means they took what they needed and left the land to nature. However, this abandonment of corrupted land was not productive because they would run out of resources. The Mayans probably sensed this because they later evolved into a intensive multi-crop cultivation. They started to take care of the land. In this effort, much labor was needed to sustain the massive cultivation of crops. This concludes that most Mayans were farmers and were in the...
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