Agricultural Revolution is thought to have started about 12,000 years ago. It coincided with the end of the last ice age and the starting of the current geological span, the Holocene. And it forever transformed how humans live, eat, and interact, paving the path for modern civilization.
During the Neolithic span, hunter-gatherers trekked the natural world, foraging for their food. But then a dramatic shift materialized. The foragers became farmers, transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more concluded one.
First Agricultural Revolution/ Neolithic Revolution
The Agricultural Revolution was a period of technological improvement and increased crop productivity that occurred during the 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe. In this article, learn the timeline, causes, effects, and major inventions that spurred this shift in production.
The agricultural revolution is the name given to a number of cultural changes that initially allowed humans to transform from hunting and gathering subsistence to one of agriculture and animal domestications. Today, more than 80% of human worldwide diet is generated from less than a dozen crop species many of which were domesticated many years ago.
Scientists study ancient remains, bone artifacts, and DNA to analyze the past and present impression of plant and animal domestication and to make sense of the desires behind early cultivation technologies.
Archeological evidence describes that starting in the Holocene epoch roughly 12 thousand years ago (kya), the domestication of plants and animals developed in separate global locations most likely prompted by climate change and local population increases.
This transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture materialized very slowly as humans selected crops for cultivation, animals for domestication, then continued to select plants and animals for desirable tricks. The development of agriculture marks a major turning point in human history and evolution.
The Neolithic Age is sometimes hailed the New Stone Age. Neolithic humans used stone tools like their earlier Stone Age founders, who stretched out a marginal appearance in small bands of hunter-gatherers during the last Ice Age.
Australian archaeologist V. Gordon Childe originated the term “Neolithic Revolution” in 1935 to describe the radical and important span of transform in which humans started cultivating plants, breeding animals for food, and forming permanent houses. The arrival of agriculture distinct Neolithic people from their Paleolithic ancestors.
Many features of modern civilization can be unearthed to this moment in history when people initiated living together in communities.
The archaeological site of Çatalhöyük in southern Turkey is one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements. Studying Çatalhöyük has given researchers a better understanding of the transition from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering to an agricultural lifestyle.
Archaeologists have unearthed more than a dozen mud-brick dwellings at the 9,500-year-old Çatalhöyük. They estimate that as many as 8,000 people may have lived here at one time. The houses were clustered so closely back-to-back that residents had to enter the homes through a hole in the roof.
The inhabitants of Çatalhöyük emerge to have valued art and spirituality. They entombed their dead under the floors of their houses. The walls of the homes are covered with murals of men hunting, cattle, and female goddesses.
Some of the earliest confirmation of farming comes from the archaeological spot of Tell Abu Hureyra, a small village spotted along the Euphrates River in modern Syria. The village was inhabited from approximately 11,500 to 7,000 B.C.
Inhabitants of Tell Abu Hureyra primarily hunted gazelle and other games. Around 9,700 B.C. they began to harvest wild grains. Several large stone tools for grinding grain have been found at the location.
Causes Of The Agricultural Revolution
Though the exact dates and reasons for the transformation are debated, confirmation of a move away from hunting and gathering and toward agriculture has been detailed worldwide. Farming is thought to have appeared first in the Fertile Curve of the Middle East, where multiple groups of people evolved the practice separately. Thus, the “agricultural revolution” was likely a series of revolutions that materialized at different times in different places.
There is a variety of researches as to why humans ended foraging and started farming. Population stress may have caused increased competition for food and the need to cultivate new foods.
People may have moved to the farm in order to engage elders and children in food production; humans may have taught to depend on plants they repaired in early domestication tries and in turn, those plants may have become vulnerable to humans. With new technology come new and ever-emerging theories about how and why the agricultural revolution began.
Regardless of how and why humans started to move away from hunting and foraging, they continued to become more fixed. This was in part due to their increasing domestication of plants. Humans are thought to have gathered plants and their seeds as early as 23,000 years ago, and to have initiated farming cereal grains like barley as early as 11,000 years ago.
Afterward, they shifted on to protein-rich foods like peas and lentils. As these early farmers became better at cultivating food, they may have developed surplus seeds and crops that required stock. This would have both arouse population growth because of more consistent food availability and required a more fixed way of life with the need to store seeds and tend crops.
Inventions in the First Agricultural Revolution
Plant domestication: Cereals such as emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, and barley were among the first crops naturalized by Neolithic farming societies in the Fertile Crescent. These early farmers also naturalized lentils, chickpeas, peas, and flax.
Domestication is the process by which farmers select for desirable traits by breeding successive generations of a plant or animal. Over time, a domestic species becomes different from its wild relative.
Neolithic farmers selected for crops that prepared easily. Wild wheat, for instance, falls to the ground and shatters when it is prepared. Early humans engendered for wheat that stayed on the stem for easier harvesting.
Around the same time that farmers were beginning to sow wheat in the Fertile Crescent, people in Asia started to grow rice and millet. Scientists have discovered archaeological remnants of Stone Age rice paddies in Chinese swamps dating back at least 7,700 years.
In Mexico, squash cultivation started about 10,000 years ago, while maize-like crops produced around 9,000 years ago.
Livestock: The first livestock was naturalized from animals that Neolithic humans hunted for meat. Domestic pigs were engendered from wild boars, for instance, while goats came from the Persian ibex. Domesticated animals made the hard, physical labor of farming possible while their milk and meat added variance to the human diet. They also carried infectious diseases: smallpox, influenza, and measles all transmit from domesticated animals to humans.
The first farm animals also included sheep and cattle. These originated in Mesopotamia between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago. Water buffalo and yak were domesticated quickly after in China, India, and Tibet.
Draft animals including oxen, donkeys, and camels appeared much later—around 4,000 B.C.—as humans developed trade routes for transporting goods.
Effects of the First Agricultural Revolution
The Agricultural Revolution attended to masses of people establishing permanent settlements bolstered by farming and agriculture. It paved the way for the innovations of the emanating Bronze Age and Iron Age when advancements in creating tools for farming, wars, and art cleaned the world and brought civilizations together through trade and conquest.
Second Agricultural Revolution
During the 18th century, another Agricultural Revolution took place when European agriculture moved from the techniques of the past. The Second Agricultural Revolution, also recognized as the British Agricultural Revolution, took place first in England in the 17th and early 18th centuries.
From there it transmits to Europe, North America, and around the world. It associated the introduction of new crop rotation techniques and selective breeding of livestock and led to a marked increase in agricultural production. It was a necessary prerequisite to the Industrial Revolution and the high population rise of the last few centuries.
The Enclosure Acts, passed in Great Britain, granted wealthy lords to purchase public fields and push out small-scale farmers, causing a movement of men looking for wage labor in cities. These workers would contribute labor to new industries during the Industrial Revolution.
The Agricultural Revolution started in Great Britain around the turn of the 18th century. Several important events, which will be discussed in more detail later, include:
- The perfection of the horse-drawn seed press, which would make farming less labor-intensive and more productive.
- The large-scale growth of new crops, such as potato and maize, by 1750.
- The passing of the Enclosure Laws, limiting the common land available to small farmers in 1760.