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Chapter 4. Farmer Power. Agricultural Societies. Agricultural societies produce more food and thus more people. Meat. Meat from livestock replaces wild meat, animals also provide power to pull plows and fertilizer. Sedentary Existence.

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Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Farmer Power

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Agricultural Societies

  • Agricultural societies produce more food and thus more people.

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  • Meat from livestock replaces wild meat, animals also provide power to pull plows and fertilizer.

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Sedentary Existence

  • Sedentary existence leads to shorter birth intervals for women (4 years for hunter-gatherers versus 2 years for agriculturalists), contributing to higher population densities

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  • Food was stored allowing existence of non-food producing specialists:

    • kings

    • bureaucrats

    • soldiers

    • priests

    • artisans.

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  • Crops and livestock provide natural fibers for:

    • clothes

    • blankets

    • nets

    • rope

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Big Animals

  • Big animals provided transport by riding:

    • horse

    • donkey

    • yak

    • reindeer

    • camels

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Animal Utility

  • Horse, donkey, yak, reindeer, camels plus the llama also used to bear packs.

  • Cows and horses were hitched to wagons

  • Reindeer and dogs pulled sleds.

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  • Horses were the most potent military technology of ancient warfare on the Eurasian continent.

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  • Germs evolved in human societies with domestic animals: smallpox, measles, flu are derived from animals.

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Chapter 5

History's Haves and Have-nots

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Unequal Conflicts

"Much of human history has consisted of unequal conflicts between the haves and the have-nots: between peoples with farmer power and those without it, or between those who acquired it at different times."

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Crop Domestication

  • Agricultural production originated independently in only a few places in the world at widely different times.

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Crop Domestication

  • Every other place got it as a cultural package of both domesticated plants and animals.

  • Can trace by archeology where a crop was domesticated.

  • Clues include finding wild varieties growing nearby.


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Often areas of most intense production are not where domestic crops originated.

Global Potato Production

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Where Crops were Domesticated

  • Five areas where crops were domesticated independently are:

  • Southwest Asia (Middle East):

    • wheat, pea, olive

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Where Crops were Domesticated

  • China: Rice, Millet

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Where Crops were Domesticated

  • Mesoamerica: corn, beans, squash

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Where Crops were Domesticated

  • Andes: potato

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Where Crops were Domesticated

  • E. USA: sunflower

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Other Domesticated Crops

  • Other crops were domesticated in other places probably after domestic crops arrived from these five centers, and people were already committed to farming.

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Adoption by Hunter-Gatherers

  • Sometimes arrival of domesticated plants and animals were adopted by hunters/gatherers

    • Egypt

    • Atlantic coast of Europe

    • South Africa

    • Native Americans in U.S.

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Displacement of Hunter-Gatherers

  • Sometimes hunters/gatherers were displaced by agriculturalists

    • South China expansion into Philippines and Indonesia

    • Bantu expansion over subequatorial Africa

    • European expansion into

      • California

      • Pacific Northwest

      • Argentine pampas

      • Australia

      • Siberia

Bantu Expansion

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Head Start

"The peoples of areas with a head start on food production thereby gained a head start on the path leading to guns, germs and steel. The result was a long series of collisions between the haves and have-nots of history."

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Chapter 6

To Farm or Not to Farm

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Food Production

  • Food production often led to

    • poorer health

    • shorter lifespan

    • harder labor for the majority of people.

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Adoption of Agriculture

  • Adoption of agriculture was not a discovery of food production nor an invention.

  • It was a process of cultural evolution.

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Evolution of Agriculture

  • Without having seen an agricultural society, how could first people who adopted agriculture have consciously chosen it?

  • Food production evolved as a by-product of decisions made without awareness of their consequences.

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Piecemeal Adoption of Agriculture

  • Many hunters and gatherers adopted some agricultural practices or sedentary life while continuing hunting and gathering:

    • Pacific Northwest Native Americans.

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Piecemeal Adoption of Agriculture

  • Also, many agriculturalists are nomadic, and many hunters/gatherers manage the land they live on.

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Piecemeal Adoption of Agriculture

  • Agriculture was often adopted piecemeal as it became desirable.

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Factors in Adoption of Agriculture

  • Relative decline in availability of wild foods.

    • As human populations grew and animal populations shrunk, agriculture became desirable

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Factors in Adoption of Agriculture

  • Climatic changes after last ice age increased range of domesticable plants.

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Factors in Adoption of Agriculture

  • cumulative development of technologies for harvesting and storing wild foods facilitated agricultural life

    • sickles

    • baskets

    • roasting techniques

    • mortars and pestles.

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Factors in Adoption of Agriculture

  • Autocatalytic rise in human population with agriculture, and agriculture with human population.

    • Population was rising due to increased technology and thus demanded agriculture.

    • Agriculture itself results in ever increased populations.

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Factors in Adoption of Agriculture

  • At boundary of agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers, denser population of agriculturalists allowed displacement or killing off of hunter-gatherers.

  • Where there were only hunter gatherers, those who adopted agriculture outbred and displaced or killed off those who didn't.

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Hunters of the World

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20th Century Hunter-Gatherers

"Those few peoples who remained hunter-gathers into the 20th century escaped replacement by food producers because they were confined to areas not fit for food production, especially deserts and Arctic regions."

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