The Agricultural Revolution: from the Neolithic Age to a New Era of Agricultural Growth

The introduction

So, first of all, I would like to point out that Neolithic Revolution is one of the most interesting technological discoveries of pre-history. The discovery of tools is recognized to be one of the most important events of human development, as it is a well-known fact that “The development of tools such as flint points, axes, weapons such as the spear and the bow and arrow, snares, and hooks is a reflection of the change from gathering and scavenging to hunting” (“Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture” 1).

Another important point of humans’ development is recognized to be control of fire. Generally, I suppose that this aspect is of great importance as fire provided people of the Neolithic Age with heat and light.

On the other hand, the discovery of fire helped people to cook food. In my opinion, this aspect is very important, as at that time numerous food items were not only unpalatable, but also unsanitary. The most significant discovery of humankind is considered to be the way to preserve fire.

On the other hand, one may point out that another key technique people became familiar with is getting fire due to combustion processes. For this reason, I suppose that one can make a conclusion that Neolithic Revolution is the key moment in the history of humans’ development.

Finally, another important aspect of the age is considered to be the invention of agriculture. This process includes domestication of various wild animals, management of plants, etc. Generally, when talking about the invention of agriculture, one is to make a conclusion that the dawn of profound social changes had started in times of Neolithic Age.

It is said that “Agriculture was adopted repeatedly and independently in various parts of the world after the retreat of the Pleitocene ice around 12,000 years ago” (“Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture” 1). The discovery of the wheel is another important event, which is to be highlighted. Thus, this invention marked the beginning of the so-called mechanical revolution.

Stages of human development

Generally, the stages of human development include hunting and gathering, use of wild grains, and Neolithic agricultural revolution. The last point is characterized by the so-called New Stone Age, farming, domestication of dogs, goats, and other wild animals. Numerous social consequences also took place.

The body

The Neolithic Age and Agricultural Revolution

This period started 10,000 years ago. The Neolithic Age is mostly associated with “the use of polished stone implements, development of permanent dwellings,

cultural advances such as pottery making, domestication of animals and plants, the cultivation of grain and fruit trees, and weaving” (“Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture” 1). On the other hand, the definition of the Neolithic Revolution is mostly related to farming appearance. When bronze tools appeared, this period was called the late period of revolution; or, in other words – the Late Neolithic Period.

Origins of agriculture are still quite ambiguous. To understand the precise origin of agriculture, one is to analyze numerous aspects, including various ecological types, a mind climate, hunting and fishing aspects, flora, etc. “The spread of early agricultural techniques led to new advances as new plant forms were carried to new environments” (“Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture” 1).

The earliest tools were made from stones. Generally, they say that the first traces of agricultural development were obvious on the territory of the Fertile Crescent. As far as I know, Israel and Iraq are considered to be modern areas of agricultural development.

Adze and axe 7000 BCE – 5000 BCE

The process of domestication can’t be neglected and requires some more attention. Thus, there is an opinion that domestication took place for religious reasons. For instance, various ceremonies and rituals were held to worship Gods as well as to present them with gifts.

Christopher Paik is of the opinion that in time of the Neolithic Age “the regions of fertile lands also adopted agriculture early, and they also developed more extractive institutions; the regions that had less suitable lands for agriculture on the other hand adopted agriculture later and developed less extractive institutions” (4).

On the other hand, domestication can be also explained by certain climatic changes. “In agricultural societies children are assets, so once the decision is made to depend on agriculture, populations inevitably increase and the economy becomes locked into agriculture” (“Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture” 3). Finally, I would like to point out that nomadism can also explain agricultural development. In other words, there is certain interdependence between hunting and farming.

Generally, the major points of the Neolithic Revolution are food raising, settled life (it includes the construction of villages, towns, and first cities), new technologies, and social organization.

(“The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution” 12)

Fertile Crescent, South Asia, East Asia, Central America, Egypt, Vietnam, etc. are considered to be the most well-known areas of agriculture development. The earliest near East town were Ain Ghazal (Jordan), Jericho (in our days, it is modern Palestine), and Catal Huyuk (in our days, it is contemporary Turkey).

Demographic changes are also recognized to be rather important. Thus, I would like to tell a few words about this aspect. So, it is necessary to point out that the availability of food items influenced higher populations. In this respect, some extra points can be added.

For instance, sedentary mode of life permitted more children. On the other hand, this mode of life also caused various illnesses. The illnesses were spread from animals. Of course, taking into account people’s constant interactions, one can point out that the diseases caused epidemics.

So, another important aspect I would like to highlight is related to the so-called social transformation. This aspect includes increasing organization (families, large societies, chiefdoms, states), social stratification (some food producers appeared, – they provided societies with food items; craft specialization, religious elites, hereditary rulers, slavery, gender discrimination), welfare of separate societies or groups.

The fist states are also to be considered. Various chiefdoms competed for domination. Thus, the first states were formed. The functions of the state were to resolve internal disorders, to protect the state from external threats, and to redistribute resources. Finally, the basic elements of civilization were political institutions, organized religion, administrative centers, hierarchical system of classes, taxation, specialization of labor, technological development, trade, and the last step – writing.

The conclusion

The Agricultural Revolution: New Era

In the untimely part of the 18th century, several farmers had narrow pieces of land that they would cultivate and generate their food (Snell 62). This system had several limitations among them being wastage of land the banks of earth that divided the narrow pieces of lands. Moreover, the drainage system for these lands was poor, and since the farmers had little knowledge on land fertility, they had to leave some land fellow every four years to improve their fertility.

This means that here was no agricultural revolution because this practice persisted for an unusually long period. Besides, the general modifications in farming were extremely slow. The problem with that was that food production remained constant while the population increased. Therefore, some people begun to experience food shortages, which meant that something had to be done.

However, in early 19th century, farmers begun to encompass new farming methods such as Norforlk Crop rotation system, which helped them, eliminate the problems of land fallow. The land was split in four portions with different crops planted in them (Bellis par. 6).

The crop that would be produced in each section would be rotated so that distinct nutrients would be consumed from the land. For example, in one year, crop such as turnips would be cultivated and in the second year, barley cultivated on the same land piece turnips crops, which in turn, replaces the barleys in their initial land. In the third year, a grass crop replaces the barley and in the fourth year wheat grown in the field.

This process helped the farmers grow some crops for profits such as wheat and barley. As the demand of food rose, individuals began to make modifications to the types of farming machines they used in their farms among them being the threshing and drilling machines (Bellwood 27).

These types of inventions accompanied with field enclosure method, facilitated agriculture to grow swiftly and generate adequate food for the increasing population. Other inventions such as the plow, creation of large-scale agricultural generation potential and leading agrarian communities led to the agricultural revolution that generated an alteration of human society.

The revolution had such a massive significance on society that several individual refer to as the “dawn of civilization.” It was during the same era when the plow was discovered that the writing, wheel and numbers were also discovered (Snell 201).

The agricultural revolution drew more attention on the changes that occurred because of the domestication upheaval that lengthened the evolution effects even further in community. The following figure shows the breakdown of radical changes that occurred during agricultural revolution.

In time of the revolution era, stratification appeared as the principal feature of social life. This integration of authority and resources finally led to the establishment of the state as the wealthy and authoritative established institution of the state to consolidate their gains even further (Bellis par. 3).

The farmers of early days in America had poor agricultural equipments that could not lead to incredible harvest. Agricultural plows that Roman farmers had were better than the American farmers’ plows. By description, a plow (others call it plough) refers to farm equipment with one or several blades that smashes the soil and cut a furrow for spreading seeds (Cohen 35).

So, while analyzing the above-mentioned facts, one can state that agricultural development began a long time ago with acceleration and pressure from the increasing population that increased the demand of food. The agricultural revolution was mainly on the farming tools that reduced labor and increased production.

Works Cited

Bellis, Mary. The Agricultural Revolution: Introduction to the Agricultural Revolution,2012. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

Bellwood, Peter. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies.

Malden (MA): Blackwell Publishers, 2004. Print.

Cohen, Mark Nathan. The Food Crisis in Prehistory: Overpopulation and the Origins of Agriculture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1977. Print.

Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture, n.d., Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

Paik, Christopher. Historical Underpinnings of Institutions: Evidence from the Neolithic Revolution, 2010. Web. 28 Feb. 2012.

Snell, K.D.M. Annals of the Labouring Poor, Social Change and Agrarian England 1660-1900. Cambridge University Presslocation: Cambridge, UK, 1985. Print.

The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution, n.d., Web. 28 Feb. 2012.