The Origins of Agriculture

Which of the following best explains life in
communities prior to the Agricultural
A. Agriculturalists & pastoralists competed
and often fought over land
B. The only role for women was to bear &
raise children
C. Groups were defined by the geographic
region of origin
D. The foraging lifestyle supported only
small, nomadic groups of people
E. Specialization of labor resulted in
important technological advances
Which one of the following reasons do most
historians cite as the cause of the Agricultural
A. People migrated to regions that could
finally support agriculture.
B. A cooling period around 6000 BCE allowed
to settle in 1 place year around.
C. Climate change drove people to abandon
foraging in favor of agriculture
D. Foraging groups grew so large that they
could no longer function as nomadic
E. Major river valleys stopped flooding,
which allowed people to settle along their
The Origins of Agriculture
Key Concept 1.1 Big Geography and the Peopling of the Earth
Key Concept 1.2 The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agriculture Societies
Essential Question: How did life differ before and after the Neolithic
Before Civilization
• Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age
– ~2.5 mill. yrs ago to ~8000 B.C.E.
– Humans migrated from East Africa to Eurasia, Australia & the
• Adapted to different geographical settings
• Developed varied technologies
Food Gathering Peoples
• Humans lived in huntingforaging bands based on
– Some self-sufficient, others
exchanged goods needed
for survival
• Ability to produce fire:
– Aided hunting/gathering
– Protected against predators
– Provided warmth in cold
– Improved taste of food &
made it easier to digest
Food Gathering Peoples
• Gender relations
tended to be more
egalitarian in
Paleolithic societies
– Women
gathered/cooked (while
carrying their children)
– Men hunted large
Food Gathering Peoples
• Foundations of science, art
& religion developed during
Paleolithic Age
– No writing systems
– Cave paintings
– Ceremonial burials implied a
belief in the afterlife
– Religious beliefs revolved
around nature
The Neolithic Revolution
• ~10,000 yrs ago (8000 B.C.E.) some
societies adopted agriculture & animal
– In response to environmental changes
– Not a single event, but a series of separate
transformations (Agricultural Revolutions)
– Created more reliable (but often less diversified)
food supply
Neolithic Revolution
Slash and Burn Agriculture
The Neolithic Revolution
• Agriculture developed first in
– Followed at different times in:
The Nile River Valley & Sub-Saharan Africa
The Yellow River (Huang He) Valley
Papua New Guinea
The Andes
River Valley Civilizations
• Pastoralism
– Way of life dependent on herding animals
– Nomadic
– Developed in grasslands of Afro-Eurasia
Life in Neolithic Communities
• Agriculture required communities to work
together to clear land & create irrigation
(water control) systems
– Drastically altered environment (ex. soil
exhaustion, deforestation)
• Food surpluses led to specialization of labor,
new societal classes (merchants, artisans,
etc.), development of elites & rapid population
Life in Neolithic Communities
• Technological
innovations led to
improvements in
agricultural production,
trade, and transportation
– Ex. pottery, plows, woven
textiles, metallurgy,
wheels and wheeled
Life in Neolithic Communities
• Gender roles
– Women lost social status
– Societies became patriarchal (dominated
by males)
• Civilizations arose
– But what characteristics define the
difference between a group of people and
a civilization?