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Agriculture changed many things in the society including the lifestyle of people through the famous Neolithic revolution. Since evolution age, humans had been practicing traditional hunting and gathering lifestyles, but the discovery of agriculture changed those practices in pursuit of a reliable supply of food and development of permanent settlements. From the agricultural practices discovered, humans began developing cities and civilization came into play. These developments were brought about by the possibility of farming animals and crops to meet the growing global demand.
It is not easy to single out one factor to be responsible for the discovery and growth of agriculture. However, there was a combination of factors that made humans start farming in various parts of the world. For example, in the East, climatic conditions changed thus ushering seasonal conditions favorable for farming of seasonal plants. In Asia, there was pressure on the natural food resources thus prompting the need to find out the possible home-grown alternatives.
The discovery and development of Agriculture led to a shift in nomadic lifestyles by ancient humans to a unified settlement and later urban environment growth and civilization. The main transition of agriculture was from natural sources to domestication. Agriculture became beneficial to early humans since it became difficult to search for food. It was saving a lot of time and energy which they previously used to looking for food. With agriculture, there was sufficient time to do other activities such as art, religion, science, and culture. There was no need to continue migrating in search of food. The activities that the early people could not do before agriculture were now made possible hence leading to a lot more discoveries.
How Agriculture Changed the Course of Human History
The Neolithic revolution was the rise of farming activities and the transformation of patterns in the ancient society that came about the discovery of agriculture. After the transition from nomadic to a sedentary lifestyle, the people could develop permanent settlement structures this growing villages, towns and later cities. The ability to farm was a sure way to ensure that there was a surplus supply of food since they were not worried about the seasons anymore. Increased food production meant increased human population. Also, there were reduced risks of fatal injuries and death during the nomadic time this leading to further growth of population. Despite the growth in population, there was enough food to sustain the life of humans. The more the population grew the small settlements became bigger leading to larger settlements which later became cities.
The discovery of agriculture and the Neolithic revolution also led to the discovery of some of the ancient technologies whose advancements culminated into contemporary technologies. For example, there was the discovery of tools such as axes and flint points and weapons such as arrow, bow, spears, snares and hooks. The use of these tools and weapons meant a transition from gathering to hunting for some societies thus creating social organization amongst the human nature. Humans also discovered fire and its control. The Greeks used to steal fire from their gods which guaranteed punishment like the one Prometheus (a Greek legend) underwent. He was chained o around a rock and an eagle let to continuously peck away his liver. The Greeks, therefore, discovered the techniques of making fire through combustion and storing it. That has remained one of the greatest discoveries of humankind. Another discovery that came from the Neolithic revolution was the wheel which aided in transportation.
However, the discovery of agriculture was not all perfect despite the amazing things like civilizations it brought. Agriculture also brought certain complications for the human life, for instance, the majority of the societies used clearing and burning technique meaning destruction of vegetation to create room for crops. Such activities led to the destruction of soil and erosion amongst other problems like climatic change witnessed even today.
The Transition to a Settled Agricultural Society
The transition from nomadism to settled agricultural society started by the man doing activities that occur naturally. Before agriculture, the human society was smaller in size and they were largely nomadic who roamed foraging for wild berries, nuts, and fruits while also hunting. They were depending on what comes naturally. Their activities involved specialization where women were gathering while men were hunting. Later on, humans began to plant the wild fruits, nuts and berries they had been scavenging.
Then came the Neolithic revolution where they started to cultivate the wild plants they used to gather and domesticate the animals they used to hunt earlier. During this period human tools were still flint instead of metal, but it was the separating line of the Paleolithic era from the Neolithic era. The revolution happened independently in various parts of the world due to the difference in climate and temperature regions. For instance, the end of Ice Ages created new temperate areas which happened at different times meant that humans could start agriculture comfortably. However, this also meant that some of the main activities of man could not be sustained.
For example, herds of bison migrated to colder areas while some became extinct while plants continued to grow well in the new temperate areas. In the circumstance, it was not easy for humans to continue pursuing the herds of bison (hunting). Instead, it was most probable for them to stay in areas with edible plants that are easy to protect may be through weeding. According to Jared Diamond’s documentary, Guns, Germs, and Steel (Lambert), hunting became expensive and unsatisfactory (Lambert). However, some adapted easily to the new lifestyle while others pursue the bison hence the development of different social organizations. The humans who decided to settle and protect what was closer became the first settle farmers.
Causes and Effects of Agriculture on the Middle East Ancient People
Guns, Germs and Steel (Lambert) argues that archeological evidence shows that the Ice Age in which the Middle East climate became colder and drier forcing wild animals to migrate to other places was the cause of agriculture in the Middle East. The ancient people resorted to the gathering which was equally not sustainable due to the varying climate change. Therefore, they began collecting certain species of wild plants like wheat and barley to plant near them. The effect was continuous and timed the cultivation of the crops near their settlements hence agriculture which leads to other civilizations. Agriculture in the Middle East began by crops rich in energy and domestication of useful animals in the villages meaning more food. The people spent time engaging in other skills such as construction and art rather than agriculture hence they became the fathers of civilization which spread to other parts of the world.
Lambert, Tim, director. Guns, Germs and Steel. Performance by Peter Coyote, Guns, Germs and Steel, YouTube, 8 May 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwZ4s8Fsv94
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