Transition to Agriculture: Human Improvement or Not?
History 103 World Civilizations I
Instructor: Paul Toro
February 13, 2012
The transition that humans made from hunting and gathering to foraging was quite a transformation around 13,000 years ago. Man had man a big change when deciding to domesticate animals and plants. Man had discovered that the wild animals that they once hunted could be tamed and could be domesticated livestock for reproduction. With plants, they found the ones that would survive and reproduce. This is when humans, animals, and plants started the transition into agriculture and the population of all began to rise. What once thought of a good thing is now being questioned. Was agriculture beneficial to society or has it damaged humankind? Homo sapiens made the extraordinary transition from foraging, hunting and gathering, to agriculture around 1300 years ago in southwest Asia. Agriculture is simply the domestication of plants and animals or farming. Human communities underwent profound economic, social, and political changes when they began to experiment with the domestication of plants and animals. Scientists refer to this era as the new Stone Age or the Neolithic era. (Bentley, Zeigler, and Streets, 2008, p. 7). With the discovery that humans made with being able to domesticate the animals and plants, life as they knew would never be the same. They did not need to follow their food around and were now able to stay in one spot. Until recently, about 1960, many thought that agriculture was a positive thing that happened to the world, but it may have had some negative effects and humans. There have been studies done on the human skeleton remains that examine the biological changes and how it affected the health and behavior of the humans at that time. Homo sapiens making the transition to agriculture sure did help people evolve into a much more developed society but there were consequences and different outcomes that came from agriculture.
Many wonder how it was that agriculture came about. There have been many theories, from different scholars, as to why it happened. It’s been reported that after the Ice Age had occurred, change in the climate led to the discovery of agriculture. In the Ice Age, temperatures were just too cold for people to be able to increase production of plants due to the climate. After the Ice Age had passed and temperatures became warmer, wetter, and more stable, production was able to be much more productive. There is very little in the way of hard facts known about the domestication of plants and animals. Most theories as to how this came about contain a fair amount of guess work. Nevertheless the best theory would seem to be that the knowledge required for the domestication of plants and animals gradually increased over time until enough was acquired to allow the domestications to take place. Theories involving climate change, fortuitous mutations and population pressure causing the domestications all have the problem that such factors would have occurred many times before the agricultural and pastoral revolutions without agriculture and pastoralism being introduced. This strongly suggests that before the agricultural and pastoral revolutions human beings simply did not know how to successfully grow plants and how to domesticate animals. No matter which way it came to be, it has been an evolution of all time and changed the world as we live in it today.
Agriculture has been one of the major developments of human kind of our existence. This transition is also known as the agricultural revolution. With agriculture people obtained a regular food supply with the growth of edible crops and bringing wild animals into dependence with humans. Many scholars believe that woman were the ones that most likely began with the organization and care of the plants instead of just collecting them. While the men began capturing the wild animals that they once hunted, they would...
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