The Neolithic Revolution

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The shift from hunting and gathering to more advanced agriculture and food production around ten thousand years ago, otherwise known as the Neolithic Revolution, resulted in drastic population growth. Though many different explanations have been proposed to explain this growth, evidence shows that an increase in the birthrate and fertility of mothers was vital to growth during the transition to an agrarian economy (Larsen 1995: 197). Birth intervals are mainly determined by a mother’s metabolic load and balance of calories. In the midst of the Neolithic Revolution, mothers who had recently bore children were able to equilibrate their calorie balances faster than mothers of the previous foraging societies. Higher-calorie foods produced by farmers …show more content…
The overall quality of life seemed to digress during this revolution. An increased focus on carbohydrates within their diets led to a decline in dental health. Agriculturalists had an increased amount of cavities compared to the hunter-gatherers before them. Their teeth began to become demineralized as hard dental tissue was eaten away by bacterial fermentation that was the result of an increased amount of sugar (Larsen 1995: 189). These dental issues could have been prevented had they maintained a more balanced diet. However, the shift from gathering to farming resulted in a drastic decrease in nutritional quality. Agrarian societies consumed a much narrower range of foods as opposed to hunter-gatherers. Minimal plant diversification in the Neolithic period also played a role, as diets tended to consist of just a few plants whose nutritional value was very poor. This is evidenced by trends such as rice in Asia or maize in the Americas (Larsen 1995: …show more content…
Many experienced decreased growth rates, stature, and cortical bone thickness. Aside from biological changes, populations were affected by new diseases and stresses. As settlements were established, benefits such as mobility and individualization were forfeited. Populations become more crowded and immobile, resulting in an increased susceptibility to communicable and epidemic diseases. Previous hunter-gatherer civilizations had the advantage of being nomadic, which consequently minimized their contact with human waste. Oppositely, such close, sedentary living quarters were bound for increased infection rates as their contact with contaminated waste sites would have only increased (Armelagos 1991: 16). Archaeological skeletal series have shown outbreaks of diseases such as anemia that spread rampant throughout communities. Non-communicable ailments also arose such as osteoarthritis and osteophytosis. As physical demands increased with the transition to farming, much more work had to be done than before, causing gradual degeneration in vertebral disks and various joints (Larsen 1995:

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