Impact of Agriculture

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Chapter 1: Intro to the Material

This chapter offers an overview of the evolution of humans, beginning with their common origins in Africa.

Debates exist as to the origins of humans and the research techniques used to support current scholarship. The text explores information about early hominids and their adaptation.

The text also discusses the competition between Cro-Magnon humans and Neanderthals. Complex thinking aided in the creation of art and language for Homo sapiens, and helped them emerge as the sole surviving hominids.

Humans engaged in migration almost from the start and across the globe, ultimately crossing the land bridge from Asia to North America (The Bering Strait). When the climate warmed and that land bridge melted, those living in the Americas were cut off from Afro-Eurasia, developing independently for millennia.

Further environmental changes led to the domestication of plants and animals. Southwest Asia, East Asia, the Americas, and Sahel Africa were incubators for settled farming communities, harvesting grains, or fish. That change did not come evenly or completely. Many groups maintained hunter and gatherer or pastoral lifestyles, following herds of animals.

Communities that did settle began the process of job specialization and social stratification. Gender differences arose, and patriarchy emerged as certain tasks became specialized. As settled communities continued to advance, they were poised to create the complex civilizations that the next chapter reveals.

National Geographic: Human Migration –…

Chapter 1 Discussion Part 1: Impact of


The Impact of Agriculture

If you haven’t already looked at the National Geographic link found in the Module (directly above this assignment), go back and do so. It’s fascinating. Using DNA submitted by people from around the world, this project was one of the first to track humanity’s origins and movements over the millennia. At the bottom of the page, click on the link “Learn More about the Development of Agriculture” and read the page (it’s not too long, I promise!)

Early Agricultural Tools

The tools above date back to the late 5th c. BCE, found on the Iberian Peninsula (modern-day Spain and Portugal), Bastida of Alcusses.

The Neolithic Revolution (named for the Neolithic or New Stone Age, the era in which this “revolution” occurred) is also known as the birth of agriculture in human history. The Neolithic period’s name stems from the fact that stone artifacts (like those in the photo above) were more smooth and refined than those of the Paleolithic period, or old stone age. Many of these tools helped make early agriculture successful.

Humans likely moved toward an agricultural system through cultivation of wild species of plants and basic herding of livestock. As time went on, they grew more sophisticated at breeding the plants and livestock that best met human needs. The corn you see in the grocery store and the pigs, cows, and sheep you see at a farm did not evolve independently in the wild. They are the product of thousands of years of human selection and breeding from original, wild forms.

Whether we’re talking about growing crops (agriculture) or raising livestock (pastoralism), both are evidence of humans taking control over their environment and their lives. Just a quick note – farmers growing food and herders raising livestock didn’t necessarily get along with one another, despite strong trade relationships. Think about why that might be.

The central theme of this week’s two-step assignment explores the impact of agriculture on humankind. That impact can be seen in a number of areas, but we’ll focus on just a few: population growth, environmental impact, commerce, and the development of social stratification.

For Part 1 of you Discussion Forum assignment, The assignment is the same, but you’ll focus on a specific area:

Commerce and Trade
Here is the topic to be addressed in essay form and posted in this discussion forum:

Using your text and other resources (a quick search of the internet will provide the information you need), draft a brief essay of 250-350 words explaining how the Neolithic Revolution created the impact you have been assigned – which is “Commerce and Trade“.

Your essay does not have to be overly detailed.

But other students will be relying on your work as they complete the second part of this week’s assignment, as you will rely upon theirs, so provide some specific facts or examples to support your point of view.

Thank You.

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