History of Agriculture
* Late Epipaleolithic 12,000-9,600 BC
* Younger Dryas 10,800-9,600 BC
* Early Aceramic Neolithic 9,600-8,000 BC
* Late Aceramic Neolithic 8,000-6,900 BC
The history of agriculture is closely tied to climate changes, or so it certainly seems from the archaeological and environmental evidence. After the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the northern hemisphere of the planet began a slow warming trend. The glaciers retreated northward, and forested areas began to develop where tundra had been. By the beginning of the Late Epipaleolithic (or Mesolithic), people moved northward, and lived in larger, more sedentary communities. The large-bodied mammals humans had survived on for thousands of years had disappeared, and now the people broadened their resource base, hunting small game such as gazelle, deer and rabbit, and gathering seeds from wild stands of wheat and barley, and collecting legumes and acorns. But, about 10,800 BC, the Younger Dryas period brought an abrupt and brutal cold turn, and the glaciers returned to Europe, and the forested areas shrank or disappeared. The YD lasted for some 1200 years, during which time people survived as best as they could. History of Agriculture After the Cold
After the cold lifted, the climate rebounded quickly. People settled into large communities and developed complex social organizations, particularly in the Levant, where the Natufian period was established. Natufian people lived in year-round established communities and developed extensive trade systems to facilitate the movement of black basalt for ground stone tools, obsidian for chipped stone tools, and seashells for personal decoration. The first stone built structures were built in the Zagros Mountains, where people collected seeds from wild cereals and captured wild sheep. The Aceramic Neolithic period saw the gradual intensification of the collecting of wild cereals, and by 8000 BC, fully domesticated versions of einkorn wheat, barley and chickpeas, and sheep, goat, cattle and pig were in use within the hilly flanks of the Zagros Mountains, and spread outward from there over the next thousand years. Scholars debate why farming, a labor-intensive way of living compared to hunting and gathering, was invented. It could be that the warming weather created a "baby boom" that needed to be fed; it could be that domesticating animals and plants was seen as a more reliable food source than hunting and gathering could promise. For whatever reason, by 8,000 BC, the die was cast, and human kind had turned towards agriculture. Scholars have a number of explain the historical of farming. Early forms of farming are called protofarming. The transition from hunter-gatherer to agricultural societies, based on evidence from south west Asia and China indicates an antecedent period of intensification and increasing sedentism, known as the Natufian in south West Asia and the Early Chinese Neolithic in China. Current models indicate that a range of resources were being used more intensively. Wild stands that had been harvested previously started to be planted. Evidence is also now emerging that the crops grown initially were wild and not domesticated. Crops such as emmer and einkorn wheat do not appear to have become domesticated until well into the Neolithic and 'ancient cultivated rice' (Oryza sativa) took 3000 years to become domesticated. Localised climate change is the favoured explanation for the origins of agriculture in the Levant, the fact that farming was 'invented' at least three times elsewhere, suggests that social reasons may have been instrumental. When major climate change took place after the last ice age (c. 11,000 BC), much of the earth became subject to long dry seasons. These conditions favoured annual plants which die off in the long dry season, leaving a dormant seed or tuber. These plants tended to put more energy into producing seeds than into woody growth. An abundance...
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