Chapter 1 First Peoples First Farmers Most of History in a Single Chapter, to 4000 BCE

First Peoples; First Farmers:
Most of History in a Single Run,
to 4000 BCE
We do not want cattle
Just wild animals to hunt
And water that we can drink
Gudo Mahiya
Gudo Mahiya was a representative of Tanzania’s Hadza people.
The Hadza were one of the few remaining hunting and gathering societies remaining
in the world.They lived by hunting game, gathering honey, and digging up roots and
berries. They lived in temporary grass huts and otherwise kept to small mobile
camps of rarely more than 20 people
When Mahiya spoke these words in 1997, the fate of the Hazda people had already
been sealed
Farmers, governments, missionaries, and tourists had entered their lives, seeking to
change the lives of the Hazda or push them out in the name of progress for the new
Today, barely more than 1000 remain in the world. Their way of life has almost
They are not alone in the modern world, but their story speaks to the ways in which
the world has changed.
Hunting and Gathering had sustained human life not just hundreds, but thousands of
Even before the arrival of agriculture and society, humans had already found
themselves adapting to new environments while maintaining the ways of hunting
and gathering
This isn’t to say that they were completely primitive. They still developed stone
technology to help them wrestle with the difficulties of their world.
These people were the people of the Paleolithic Era, or the Old Stone Age
The world of humans however began to change 12,000 Years Ago
Though not entirely simultaneously, peoples living in Eurasia, Africa, and the
Americas all began to experiment with the cultivation of plants and the
domestication of animals
This was the arrival of agriculture into the world of humanity
This was the Neolithic Revolution (or, the New Stone Age)
This period would last up until the mass arrival of urban-based civilizations 5500
years ago
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
● Humanity’s story begins in Africa
● The precursors to humanity, the various succession of hominids had already
existed in Africa for several million years
● Homo sapiens, that is, our species, first emerged in Africa roughly 200,000 to
250,000 years ago
We would specifically find our cradle in the grasslands of Eastern and Southern Africa
● Though they existed for over two hundred thousand years, our records of these
early humans are very little due to the lack of a written record and the realities
of the environment keeping even their remains scarce
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
● What we can tell is that humanity now began to grow more bold in where it
● Within Africa alone, humanity occupied not just the grasslands of the Savannah
but they also began to take home within the rainforests and deserts
By living within the deserts of the Sahara, humanity now also had a better means through which
they could spread beyond Africa and into other continents
● Humanity had always tools, but they began to develop more complex tools
Handaxes gave way to shafted axes
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
● Even the way humans ate changed
● Hominids often survived as scavengers, seldom able to effectively hunt living
● With the rise of humans and their complex tools, they began actively hunting
● With the rise of hunting, humans also began planning where they lived
They still moved around as wanderers in an untamed wilderness, but they began discerning
migration patterns of animals and growth seasons for plants and planned their own migrations
Once humans began moving around the same areas more frequently, this meant humans became
more likely to settle down in specific places, giving rise to more semi-permanent homes
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
● As humans began to settle into more long term homes, the evidence of these
communities also reflect the rise of networks of trade connecting these
In turn, the evidence of these networks of trade thus exist as proof of language when written
evidence of such language is non-existent
● As humans also stayed in one place more frequently, we also have the remains
of culture showing up as evidence of their existence
Most importantly, the evidence of ceremonial burials show the earliest evidence for social and
symbolic behavior in humanity, showing both a push for cultural and social connections growing
between humans
Out of Africa to the Ends of the Earth: First
● Though Africa would be humanity’s cradle, it would not be humanity’s only
● Roughly 100,000 to 60,000 years ago, humans began migrating out of Africa
In the following millenia, humans would slowly begin to occupy Eurasia and the Americas, later
making their way into the Pacific and into Australia
● In doing so, humanity had done what no other single species on earth had
managed to that point in that they had settled across the entire planet
Into Eurasia
● Humanity’s first steps out of Africa put it into Eurasia
● Specifically, what is now known as the Middle East is what connected Africa to the
rest of the world
● After settling throughout the middle east, humanity then began moving westward
into Europe and eastward into Asia around 45,000 Years Ago
● The first long term settlements to be discovered were found in Southern France and
Northern Spain
The realities of the Ice Age kept many early humans from pushing too far north
● The different animals of Eurasia, like Reindeer and horses, required new hunting
strategies and technology
This included spear throwers and, later, bows
Humans started showing records of the world around them via paintings of horses, deer, and even of
themselves through paintings of their own hands
Into Eurasia
● Further towards the east, archaeological data shows other adaptations to the
harsher climate of Ice Age era Eurasia
● In the plains of Central Europe, Russia, and Ukraine, evidence shows signs of bone
needles, multilayered clothing, weavings, nets, storage pits, baskets, and pottery
All of these made humans better adapted to survive in the cold
● Also in the archaeological record were the signs of partially underground homes
made of dug pits with mammoth bone walls
● Finally, figurines from the period show an interpretation of the feminine figure, as
these figures, known as Venus figures, have been recovered all around Europe,
ranging all throughout the past 35,000 years
The meaning of these figures are lost to time, but multiple interpretations exist
■ Some suggest a reverence for the feminine figure
■ Others suggest they are self portraits of pregnant women
Into Eurasia
Into Australia
● Humans first arrived into Australia roughly 60,000 Years Ago
They most likely arrived through Indonesia
Though the sea levels were lower during this period, environmental records show that Australia
was still likely surrounded by water
As such, the arrival of humanity to Australia suggests the existence of boats
● Roughly 300,000 people were already living in Australia by the time the first
Europeans arrived in the late 1700s
● The people who settled Australia were incredibly diverse, with their
descendants accounting for over 250 separate languages
● When Europeans arrived in the 18th century, the peoples of australia still lived
basic Hunting and Gathering lifestyles
Into Australia
● Though they lived basic lives, their spiritual understanding of the world around
them was anything but simple
● They saw the world as a representation of the Dreamtime, and elaborate and
complex view of the world that expressed itself in endless stories and
● The Dreamtime accounted for the beginning of time, speaking of ancestral
beings creating the land as they moved throughout the world
● As such, the Aborigines of Australia viewed the world as a reflection of the
spiritual past
● Though the peoples of Australia spoke different languages, their shared belief in
the Dreamtime linked them all
Into the Americas
● Humanity took considerably longer to arrive to the Americas and the Western
Hemisphere as a whole
● The only real path into the Americas during this era was through the Bering
Land Bridge connecting Siberia to Alaska
Humanity had to advance far enough to survive through Siberia before they could settle the
● The first migrations into the Western Hemisphere took place roughly 30,000 to
15,000 Years Ago
By 12,500 years ago, the signs of humans in the southern tip of South America, in modern
Chile, are readily apparent
Into the Americas
● The first clearly defined culture in the Americas was the “Clovis” culture
● They were largely scattered across North America
● Their main defining feature was a new form of projectile point (what is
commonly confused as an “arrowhead”) dubbed “the Clovis Point”
● They flourished up to around 13,000 Years Ago
● They largely subsisted off of large game, like mammoths and bison
● They effectively disappear from the archaeological record around the same time
the mammoth disappeared from the continent
This leads to a chicken or egg scenario, where, to this day, we don’t know if they hunted the
mammoth to extinction or if the mammoth disappeared on its own and took the Clovis with it
Into the Americas
● Though the Clovis vanished, their descendants continued to spread throughout
the Americas
● Those who remained in the Great Plains of North America continued to hunt
Bison as if little changed
● Others moved into the deserts of Southwest North America, surviving off of
smaller creatures and plants
● Others still moved further south, settling in Mesoamerica and South America
It is out of these migrations that we see the first communities domesticating crops like corn and
These people will become the foundations for the great empires of the Aztecs and the Inca
In time, they will build great cities to fill out their empires
Into the Pacific
● The settlement of the Pacific was the last major wave of human settlement in the
prehistoric world
It actually occurred relatively recently, as well
It started roughly 3500 years ago, after even the great Pyramids of Egypt were built
They most likely started out from the Philippines and the Islands of New Guinea
● These people were initially dubbed the Austronesian people, grouped together by
their shared language
The Austronesian language family spreads today from Madagascar over to New Zealand
● These migrations also differed from previous migrations because they already took
with them to new lands the skills of agriculture and animal domestication
● In places like Hawaii, the descendants of the initial austronesians, the Polynesians
and the Melonesians, quickly established heavily stratified cultures with a defined
military backing
The Was We Were
● The people of the Paleolithic era quickly defined themselves into countless
different cultural groups, each with their own languages, religions, cultural
practices, and histories
● Despite these differences, the realities of the limitations of the period meant that
they all shared many things in common
This would change as the world transitioned into the Neolithic era, but the cultures that would
develop in the Paleolithic would often represented similar practices
As such, mapping out these early societies is not difficult
The First Human Societies
● The societies of the Paleolithic era were typically small
Regularly they were bands of roughly 20-30 people who were closely related
● Populations of larger groups were difficult to maintain with the existing
The scarcity of food supplies meant that groups could only feed small populations
This low population rate was also kept stunted by a volcanic explosion in Indonesia 70,000 years
ago that caused a dramatic Ice Age, causing the global population of humans to plummet to
barely more than 10,000 individuals
The human population was slow to recover, growing to 500,000 by 30,000 years ago
■ The population of people around the world would only break one million roughly 10,000
years ago
The First Human Societies
● Due to the scarcity of food and the limited number of peoples, societies during
this period were Egalitarian
This meant that they had little need for personal wealth
Food and supplies were shared within a band of people
This also meant that they had little need for social stratification
■ Thus, paleolithic societies had little need for kings or priests controlling society
Similarly, it meant there was little need for division between genders
■ Men and women were thus more equal during this period
■ This didn’t mean that tasks within a band weren’t segregated by gender
● Men often focused on the hunting, while women focused on the gathering
○ This actually meant that women had a more important role, as gathering foods
were more reliable and sustainable than hunting
○ Thus women occupied equal roles with men in terms of prominence
The First Human Societies
● Based on modern Hunting and Gathering groups still maintaining a traditional
lifestyle, women also suffered little in the way of having to deal with abusive
Marriages could end if either partner was dissatisfied with the other
Domestic violence and sexual violence was also less common
Polygamy could and did happen, but monogamy took root as it was a safer way for partners to
not have to worry about sharing a spouse
● This did not mean a total absence of violence
Competition still lead men to fight each other
The distribution of goods not being totally equal also led to further conflict
The archaeological record also suggests a significantly high murder rate compared to later
● As such, be careful to not idealize these societies
Adultery was still punishable during this period
Economy and the Environment
● Until recently, modern society looked down upon Hunting & Gathering societies
They portrayed them as primitive and struggling societies
● In reality, records suggest that the people of the period lived somewhat
They worked fewer hours to meet their basic needs
■ This meant more leisure time
Scholars have suggested that, in a way, they were affluent, though because they had a lack of
want, rather than having everything they did want
● But, again, don’t confuse this as life being perfect
● The life expectancy rate for peoples in these societies remained at a low 25
● The nature of the world around them also made life more or less difficult
depending on what was available
Economy and the Environment
● Another misconception of peoples of the era is the idea that they lived in
harmony with nature
● In reality, the people of the Paleolithic era were just as willing and able to
modify the wilderness to their needs
● Controlled fires were utilized in the wilderness to allow hunters to better hunt
and for gatherers to control where plants grew
Australian Aborigines actually caused a new strain of fire resistance Eucalyptus to start growing
in Australia from their controlled fires
● Hunting also caused the extinctions/near extinctions of numerous animals
● Similarly, other hominids that coexisted with humans, like the Neanderthals and
the Hobbits of Indonesia, perished once they came in regular contact with
The Realm of the Spirit
● The exact religious beliefs of the people of this period are difficult to determine,
but evidence of those beliefs existing do persist
● Rock art deep in the caves of Eurasia suggest a “ceremonial space”
● Elaborate burial sites where skeleton remains are surrounded by goods suggests
a belief in an afterlife of sorts
● Modern evidence hints that few societies had full time religious figures within
community groups, but that some peoples often occasionally filled those roles on
a part time basis
These figures often interacted with the spiritual world through entering a heightened state
through the use of substances that induced alternate states of awareness.
The Realm of the Spirit
● Linguistic analysis also allows for a look into the specific ways in which peoples
saw the metaphysical world
● This analysis suggests many different belief systems
Some groups actually did adopt a monotheistic belief in a creator deity
Others took on a more animistic belief in spirits inhabiting different aspects of reality
Some other groups also venerated their ancestors as persistent spirits
● The existence of the Venus figures also suggest some veneration of the
feminine form
Fertility itself often manifested in the spiritual world, with the seasonal nature of the
world and the cycle of life often influencing how people saw the world
Settling Down: The Great Transition
● The Paleolithic era was a long lasting era, speaking to how slowly humanity
developed during it
● Despite this slow pace, advancements were clearly made in technology and
● While tools remained simple and based around stone, they began to slowly
shrink during the period, as humans began to miniaturize and streamline their
● Subsistence strategies still focused on hunting and gathering, but expanded to
start covering simple wild grains
This diversified the eating habits of a people who largely ate meats, fruits, and vegetables
Settling Down: The Great Transition
● The biggest change, however, would occur roughly 16,000 to 10,000 years ago
● The end of the Ice Age brought global temperatures back up, which meant
vegetation now grew more easily around the world
● With food supplies being more available, humans had to travel less to find foods
to sustain their groups
● In turn, their groups could grow larger
● However, as a result, this made it harder for populations to relocate
● As such, the biggest change came as humans became more Sedentary, as they
began to create more permanent settlements
Settling Down: The Great Transition
● As humans began to build more permanent housing, it also meant they had
more permanent space to store goods
● Thus, the acquisition of goods became more prevalent in society
● As some people were more capable or willing than others, they began to amass
more goods than others
● Thus, the great transition towards sedentary living meant that the egalitarian
system of equality that had persisted since time immemorial was started to
Settling Down: The Great Transition
● The need to store goods and food also meant that humans now needed to
develop ways to better store them
● As such, starting with societies like the Jomon of ancient Japan, humans
developed new technologies to store their goods in the form of the first
examples of pottery being made in the world
● Woodworking also emerged, as people began carving out tree trunks to create
simple canoes and then began to carve wood down into smaller goods, like
bowls and utensils
● Housing also diversified, with the people of Labrador building wooden
“longhouses” to house entire communities
● It is also this time that the domestication of animals started, as humans
domesticated the wolf, creating the relationship with dogs that has persisted
into the modern day
Settling Down: The Great Transition
● The site of Gobekli Tepe in modern day Turkey also shows just how advanced
these paleolithic communities could get
● The complex of Gobekli Tepe is a city-like complex composed of megalithic
structures carved from limestone
These kinds of structures were typically thought to only exist in the Neolithic Era and later
● The purpose of the site is still a mystery, as evidence shows it wasn’t a regular
community settlement, but it does show the signs of limited living and
ceremonial use
● Though it didn’t mean the end of wandering through the wilderness, it
ultimately is the sign suggesting the transition away from moving from place to
place to humans finding places to return home to
Breakthroughs to Agriculture
● The Neolithic period is marked by a revolution spurred by one of the most
significant adoptions in human culture: that of agriculture
● Agriculture, the deliberate cultivation of plants and the taming/domestication
of animals, allowed for humanity to expand to new heights
● This process would take centuries, if not millennia, to become standard for most
of humanity, but it would eventually become the predominant form of living
● With the arrival of agriculture, humans truly could settle down into permanent
settlements, allowing for true population growth and the eventual development
of long-term cultures and societies
● It would also allow for the proliferation of disease, warfare, civilization,
government, and more
Breakthroughs to Agriculture
● Agriculture also changed the overall relationship between humans and nature
● As we discussed before, paleolithic hunting and gathering humans had made
some attempts at controlling nature, via things like controlled burning of the
● This, however, was surpassed by Neolithic humanity’s attempts at controlling
the very development of plants
Neolithic humans in the Americas developed corn from plants that only produced an inch of
edible food to a plant that produced half a foot of edible food by the time Europeans encountered
the Americas 500 years ago
Breakthroughs to Agriculture
● Farm fields also began to transform the landscape, as humans cut down forests
to settle their fields and divided them up amongst family owned farms
Irrigation ditches also redirected entire rivers as communities discovered that they could change
where water flowed to better develop their communities
● The domestication of animals also meant that humanity would control animal
breeding in a way that would produce animals that had more desirable traits for
human purposes
This is how we got dog breeds
This is how we also got the modern cow out of the now-extinct auroch
We also bred things like sheep to have more harvestable wool and chicken that laid eggs more
Breakthroughs to Agriculture
● The domestication of animals tamed many beasts for the purposes of man, but
changed the lives for many of these animals
● Some domesticated plants and animals could no longer survive in the wild on
their own
● The domestication of animals and plants also meant that humans living in
agricultural societies became less capable of surviving in a hunting and
gathering society
Hunting persisted in some communities, but it was no longer a common or required skill
Gathering became even less required
● Ultimately, humanity’s control over their food meant that populations could
grow. With a growing population, comes a growing civilization
Common Patterns
● The most remarkable reality of the Agriculture Revolution of the shift to the
Neolithic era is in how it occurred in various communities independent of each
● Though agriculture certainly spred out from these groups to surrounding
peoples, these initial groups couldn’t have been more separated, with agriculture
emerging in Eurasia and in Sub-Saharan Africa, both of which were separated
by the vastness of the Sahara Desert, as well as the Americas, effectively cut
off from the Eastern Hemisphere by that point
● Even more amazingly, not only did these communities develop them on their
own, but they did so at roughly the same time
Common Patterns
● This emergence of Agriculture is not too much of a surprise, however
● With the end of the Ice Age, the conditions for agriculture were available in
much of the world
As noted before, the end of the Ice Age made many plants much more viable than they had
before, allowing them to grow much more easily
The extinction of the animals of the ice age (like the Mammoth) also meant that some
communities had to find alternatives when their main source of food was no longer available
● Some communities already had the tool to begin farming once these conditions
were available
In the middle east, peoples had developed hand sickles for the purposes of harvesting simple
grains. These sickles were even more well suited for the harvesting of farmable crops
The development of tools like the mortar and pestle had peoples experimenting with different
plants to find new uses for plants beyond picking them up and eating them
Common Patterns
● In most communities, agriculture developed in cases where the growing
populations in the semi-permanent communities that hunting and gathering
societies needed to better maintain their populations
The complex at Gobekli Tepe actually provides a possible example of this, as the nature of
building such a massive complex meant that the workers would have needed to develop a reliable
food source in the vicinity
Incidentally, the vicinity of the site shows signs of some of the earliest domestication of Wheat
As Gobekli Tepe is typically seen as a possible religious site, this also means that the rise of
religious culture also played a role in the development of permanent agricultural communities
● The initial technology of agriculture is typically shared across all of these
independent early agricultural communities
Digging sticks (hoes) were common
Plows became common, though much later and not everywhere
● These communities differed, however, most significantly from each other based
on what plants and animals were available to them
● Potatoes and Corn allowed for thriving populations in the Americas, but they
were unavailable in Eurasia and Africa
● Pigs and wheat, however, were also only available initially in Eurasia
● True domestication has only affected relatively few plants and animals
Sheep, pigs, goats, cattle, horse, chicken, and dogs remain the primary domesticated animals
Similarly, wheat, corn, potatoes, rice, barley, and sorghum emerged as the primary domesticated
plants to feed humanity, though others do emerge throughout history
● Though agriculture likely occurred first in Sub-Saharan Africa, the first full
Agricultural Revolution occurred in the Fertile Crescent, an area of the Middle
East that now corresponds with modern day Iraq and Syria
Agriculture likely happened as a result of the previously abundant wild plant and animal life
becoming less available following an extended drought
Figs emerged as one of the first domesticated crops in the Crescent around roughly 9400BCE
Within 1000 years, the people of the Crescent had domesticated wheat, barley, rye, pease,
lentils, sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle
■ Archaeological records show that this likely even happened within 500 years
● Corresponding with this rapid adoption of agriculture, signs of new building
technology emerged in the form of sun-dried mud bricks
This meant that, instead of having to rely on stone, wood, or cloth, humans could make their
own building materials from a more readily available resource
■ Records also show that these new brick buildings were decorated with artifacts like cow
skulls to denote a building’s purpose
● Around the same time, the Sudantic culture in Sub-Saharan Africa in what is
now modern day Sudan continued to develop their own system of domestication
● Occurring between 10,000 and 5,000 Years Ago, the people of the Sudantic
region began domesticating cattle, cotton, and sorghum
In other parts of Africa, people domesticated the donkey, the kola nut, yams, millet, gourds, palm
oil, okra, and other common domesticated goods
● These farms would be a little more far spread, so some of those goods would not
be commonly adopted by the rest of the Afro-Eurasian world, but donkeys,
sorghum, and millet would become adopted elsewhere
● The domestication of goods in the Americas is of particular note for this period
● Though animals were domesticated in the Americas during this period, they were
much smaller in size and did not really work as well for consumption or for pack
animal purposes
The largest domestic animal of the Americas, the llama, doesn’t make a particularly good animal to ride
or draw a cart/plow
This meant that meat eating cultures still had to rely on hunting for obtaining meat
● Instead, the agriculture of this region focused almost entirely on the domestication of
● Corn and potatoes became highly important crops, as they were more nutritious and
yielded more food in a given harvest
It thus allowed for communities to grow larger than others could
● The Americas and Eurasia show one of the biggest variations, however
Eurasia being an East to West entity meant that techniques and crops could be shared between east and
The Americas being a North/South Entity meant that foods didn’t transport as easily between climate
The Globalization of Agriculture
● Agriculture initially coexisted alongside hunting and gathering
● It, however, began to spread in two distinct waves, eventually supplanting
hunting and gathering as the primary way people survived
● The first process, Diffusion, caused agriculture to gradually spread as peoples
spread ideas to neighboring communities, not necessarily migrating themselves
● The second process, Colonization or Migration, meant that agricultural
communities themselves were spreading, bringing agriculture with them
It is through this that we start to see warfare crop up more frequently, and peoples come into
conflict with hunting and gathering societies living on prime farm land
Triumph and Resistance
● Diffusion and Migration/Colonization occurred throughout Eurasia, spreading
agriculture from the Middle East and Africa out into Europe and Asia
● Languages thus became more standardized, as major agricultural groups began
to grow and spread, bringing their language groups with them
The Indo-European languages, originating around Turkey or other parts of the Fertile Crescent,
spread throughout parts of Europe and West Asia, forming the basis of many modern languages
Similarly, the Indo-European religion formed the basis of many historical religions, leaving their
legacy even with modern Hinduism
This also occurred similarly in China, where the agricultural societies of China managed to
spread their language and culture, creating a shared linguistic and cultural system in East Asia
Triumph and Resistance
● The development of Agriculture in Africa also led to the spread of the Bantu
language as a common shared language in some Sub-Saharan African societies
This started out in what is now Cameroon in 3000BCE but then spread throughout much of
The Bantu were early adopters of agriculture and cattle farming, and later were quick adopters
of ironworking, and they used their mastery of these skills to command much of Sub-Saharan
Africa, displacing many paleolithic societies
● This was similar in the Pacific, where Austronesian farmers quickly began to
dominate preexisting Paleolithic societies
Triumph and Resistance
● This was a prolonged process, taking almost 10,000 years to spread throughout
the world
● It did not take root everywhere, however
Though agriculture emerged in New Guinea, it never took root in nearby Australia
While agriculture allowed many communities in the Americas to become successful, the vast
majority of communities in the continents never fully adopted agriculture
● In reality, not every part of the world is suitable for agriculture
Societies that never adopted agriculture did not do so out of resistance, but rather due to
● Regardless, by the start of the Common Era, most of humanity lived under
The Culture of Agriculture
● As noted before, the rise of agriculture meant the rise of human populations
Agriculture could support larger populations
The community of Jericho in modern day Israel housed roughly 2,000 people, which dwarfed the
population of small paleolithic communities
By the time the Agricultural Revolution was in full force, estimates suggest the population
increased almost ten times, going from 6 million to 50 million between 10,000 and 5,000 years
ago, and then against up to 250 million by 2 thousand years ago
● With more people living together, this also meant that people could experiment
more with cultural practices and create more complex cultures in the process
● It also meant that humans being more in proximity to each other meant that
diseases, like small pox, flu, and tuberculosis became a much more frightening
The Culture of Agriculture
● The reliance on agriculture also posed new threats to humans
● Reliance on specific crops meant that crop failures or crop blights could
devastate a population
● Agriculture also completely required long term settlements, as crops needed to
be regularly cared for
● It also meant that more rigid societies had to be formed to keep society
● The technological demands for these societies were also different, as technology
like pottery was much more of a required element to function in an agricultural
The Culture of Agriculture
● The reliance on agriculture also posed new threats to humans
● Reliance on specific crops meant that crop failures or crop blights could
devastate a population
● Agriculture also completely required long term settlements, as crops needed to
be regularly cared for
● It also meant that more rigid societies had to be formed to keep society
● The technological demands for these societies were also different, as technology
like pottery was much more of a required element to function in an agricultural
● This led humanity to experiment with new technologies to make agriculture
easier, leading to the discovery of metallurgy, the working of metals
● It also led to the experimentation with food goods to create new foods
This lead to the discovery of fermentation, allowing the creation of alcohol and cheese
Social Variations in the Age of Agriculture
● New possibilities were opening up for humanity as new resources became
available and understood
● Few of these possibilities led to the same outcome, leading societies to develop
● Differences in the natural environment, as discussed before, made it to where
societies would still develop differently by nature
Pastoral Societies
● One major variation in agricultural societies was the development of Pastoral
Societies, semi-nomadic communities that focused on raising animals in large
● These societies became big throughout central Europe, the Arabian Peninsula,
the Sahara, and the Asian Steppes
● The animals raised in these societies differed, with horse pastoralists becoming
lords of the Eurasian Steppes, while Cattle and Camel herders grew common in
Africa and the Middle East
● Due to the lack of pack animals in the Americas, it no pastoral societies
emerged there until the arrival of Europeans brought horses, cattle, and pigs
into the continents
Pastoral Societies
● Typically, pastoralists came in conflict with farmers, as their often incompatible
needs for the landscape put them at odds
The Biblical story of Cain and Abel actually reflects this age old conflict
● This was not the only reality, however
● Sometimes these communities coexisted and traded goods with each other, with
pastoralists trading meat for the crops of the farmers
● These societies tended to maintain some of the egalitarian nature of their
paleolithic forbearers, with gender politics being more equal than they were in
farming communities
Agricultural Village Societies
● The more common site of the agricultural revolution was the Horticulture
Farming, or communities based around growing crops
● Though this would change, the earliest examples of these agricultural villages
show that they did have gender equality for a little time
● As women had previously been in charge of gathering crops in the era of
hunting and gathering, they still occupied somewhat of a position of respect
● This changed, however
● As property became more critical to society, women became utilized as a
bargaining tool for patriarchal societies looking to maintain a grasp on land
This, in turn, changed the differing values of men and women in society
Archaeological records show that some societies started valuing boys as more worthwhile as
girls, and female infanticide became a common practice in some societies
● As farming villages became more organized and people began to conflict over
who owned land, government became a necessity for communities to function
● As such, Chiefdoms, or small scale governments based around powerful and/or
rich leaders emerged as a means of controlling communities
● Chiefdoms often centered around the most successful farmers
They often used their wealth as a means of controlling the population, by giving out goods or
land to subservient villagers
Some chiefdoms also began to rely on lineage, as rich families continued to get rich and passed
down their status to their children
● These types of governments turned up all across the world, from Eurasia, to
Africa, to the Americas, and to the Pacific islands
● Though this wasn’t always an antagonistic system, it did teach humans how to
start ruling each other
● This, in turn, gave way to gender politics where men lorded over women
● It also gave way to the politics of slavery, where the idea of owning people as
property became accepted as another form of political domination
● Thus, these would become defining elements of the civilized world that we will
come to discuss in the coming weeks
The Uses of The Paleolithic
● History is ultimately about those who tell it in the present, with the descendants
of the peoples we discuss in the past being the ones to tell their stories
● We may not have written records of people from the paleolithic period, but their
descendants are still occasionally around to tell us about their ways
● We also have records of their lives not in writing but in the form of the marks
they left on the world
● Furthermore, the people of the Paleolithic era have spent countless years being
looked down upon as primitive, but, as discussed, humanity has begun to revist
the period and reevaluate it
This is mostly good, but it has caused some people to glorify the paleolithic lifestyle in an
attempt to overly romanticise the period
The Uses of The Paleolithic
● The important takeaway here is that the people of the Paleolithic period were
complicated in their simplicity
● Their lives do not reflect one simple reality, though they did often share much in
The Big Picture Questions
In what ways did the various Paleolithic socieities differ from each other? How did
they change over time?
How did the agricultural revolution change the world? How did it change humanity?
How did the people of the agricultural revolution differ from the people of the
paleolithic period
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