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The First Farmers

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  1. The First Farmers • The Mesolithic • The Neolithic • The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • Other Old World Farmers • The First Farmers in the Americas • Explaining the Neolithic • Costs and Benefits

  2. The First Farmers • When and where did the Neolithic originate, and what were its main features? • What similarities and differences marked the Neolithic economies of the Old World and the New World? • What costs and benefits are associated with food production?

  3. Withglacialretreat, foragerspursued a moregeneralizedeconomy, focusingless on largeanimals. This is thebeginning of broad-spectrumrevolution. • Widerrange of plantandanimal life hunted, gathered, caught, collected, fished. • Revolutionarybecause it ledtofoodproduction – humancontroloverthereproduction of plantsandanimals.

  4. The First Farmers In Europe, foragers pursued more generalized economy, focusing less on large animals Broad spectrum revolution: 15,000 BP in Middle East and 12,000 BP in Europe Broader spectrum of plant and animal life hunted, gathered, collected, caught, and fished • Domestication of plants and animals for food occurred, independently, in Old World and the Americas around 11,000 years ago

  5. The Mesolithic Fishhooks Harpoon tips Dart tips New hunting techniques New kinds of axes, chisels, and gouges • Mesolithic followed Upper Paleolithic • Microliths: small stone tools typical of Mesolithic technology

  6. The Mesolithic Generalized, broad-spectrum economies persisted about 5,000 years longer in Europe than in the Middle East • Technology reflects shift from focus on herd game hunting to more varied and specialized activities (gathering)

  7. Broad-spectrumeconomieslasted 5,000 yearslonger in Europethan in theMiddle East. WhereasMiddleEasterners had beguntocultivateplantsandanimalbreedsby 10,000BP, foodproductionreached Western Europeonlyaround 5,000BP.

  8. The Neolithic The transition from Mesolithic to Neolithic occurred when groups became dependent on domesticated foods Shift toward the Neolithic was under way in the Middle East by 12,000 BP • Neolithic: refers to new techniques of grinding and polishing stone tools

  9. NeolithicRevolutionreferstotheorigin • andimpact of foodproduction (plantcultivationandanimaldomestication). • By 12.000 BP in theMiddle East (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan andIsrael) peoplestartedintervening in thereproductivecycles of plantsandanimals. • No longerjustharvestingnature’sbounty, theygrewtheirownfood.

  10. Theprimarysignificance of theNeolithicwasthenew total economyratherthanjustitscharacteristicartifacts (pottery). • Cultivation • Sedentary life • Use of ceramicvessels

  11. The Neolithic • By 10,000 BP, domesticated plants and animals were part of a broad spectrum of resources used by Middle Easterners. • Middle Easterners moved away from a broad-spectrum foraging pattern toward more specialized economies based on fewer species, which were domesticates.

  12. The Neolithic • During the era of increased specialization in food production (7,500 to 5,500 BP) new crops were added to the diet, along with more productive varieties of wheat and barley.

  13. Dryfarming: farmingwithoutirrigation, suchfarmingdepended on rainfall.

  14. Recap 11.1: The Transition to Food Production in the Middle East

  15. The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • High plateau (5,000 feet) • Hilly flanks: a subtropical woodland zone that flanks rivers to the north • Piedmont steppe: a treeless plain • Alluvial desert: watered by Tigris and Euphrates rivers • Fertile Crescent’s Environmental Zones

  16. Foodproductiondid not start in alluvialdesertwhichrelied on irrigationsystemstosustaincultivation.Instead, plantcultivationandanimaldomesticationstarted in areaswithreliablerainfall (re. dryfarming)

  17. The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • Deliberate cultivation eventually became most intensely practiced on alluvial plain • Started in hilly flanks (woodlandzonenorth of TigrisandEuphratesrivers)that had more abundant wild wheat and barley • Binford: in local environments rich in resources foragers adopted sedentism: a sedentary life in villages • Natufians (12,500–10,500 BP): widespread Middle Eastern foraging culture

  18. HillyFlanksforagersandtheNatufianssettledclosetograinfields. Theystoredtheirgrain. Theirsheepandgoatsusedtograce on thestubblethatremainedafterharvest. Hence, theyestablishedvillage life (houses, storagepits, ovens)

  19. The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • Deliberate cultivation most likely came in response to climatic changes • A drying trend (end of theIceage,11,000 BP) shrank the zone of abundant wild grain. • The Natufians tried to maintain their productivity by transferring wild cereals to well-watered areas. • Recent archaeological finds show that food production began in marginal areas (adoptingnewsubsistencestrategies).

  20. The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • Early cultivation began as an attempt to copy, in a less favorable environment, dense stands of wheat and barley that grew wild in the hilly flanks. As climatedriedupthoseliving in marginalareas had toexperimentandadoptnewsubsistencestrategiesforfoodproduction. • Sedentary village life developed before farming and herding in the Middle East.

  21. The First Farmers and Herders in the Middle East • Exploited environmental zones that were close but contrasted with one another in altitude, rainfall, overall climate, and vegetation. Allowedtheuse of differentresources in differentseasons. • Movement of people, animals, and products between zones was a precondition for the emergence of food production. • The Middle East had a vertical economy, as had Mesoamerica, including Mexico, Guatemala, Peru.

  22. Figure 11.1: The Vertical Economy of the Ancient Middle East

  23. Food Production and the State • Middle Eastern economies became geared more exclusively toward crops and herds. • In the hilly flanks areas, people began to intensify production by cultivating. • Farming colonies spread down into drier areaswiththeinvention of betterirrigationtechniques. • The shift from foraging to food production was gradual.

  24. InMesopotamia, a neweconomybased on irrigationandtradefueledthegrowth of an entirelynew form of society: thestate. • Thestate: a socailandpoliticalunitfeaturing a centralgovernment, contrasts in wealth, andsocialclasses.

  25. Other Old World Producers • Three in the Americas • Four in the Old World • Food production spread, through • Trade • Diffusion • Migration • The path from foraging to food production was followed independently in at least seven world areas:

  26. The African Neolithic • 12,000 BP: Nabta Playa occupied • Early evidence of “African cattle complex” • 9,000 BP: People were at Nabta year-round. • 7,500 BP: New settlers occupied Nabta after a major drought. • Brought a more sophisticated social and ceremonial system • Considerable complexity existed in southern Egypt’s Neolithic economy and social system.

  27. The Neolithic in Europe and Asia • 6,000 BP: Thousands of farming villages grew up, from Russia to northern France. • Domestication and Neolithic economies spread rapidly across Eurasia. • 8,000 BP: Communities on Europe’s Mediterranean shores were shifting from foraging to farming.

  28. The Neolithic in Europe and Asia • 8,000 BP: Domesticated goats, sheep, cattle, wheat, and barley were present in Pakistan. • China became one of the first world areas to develop farming, based on millet and rice. • Discoveries suggest that rice was domesticated in the Yangtze River Valley as early as 8,400 BP.

  29. Figure 11.3: Seven World Areas Where Food Production Was Independently Invented

  30. Recap 12.2: Seven World Areas Where Food Production Was Independently Invented

  31. The First Farmers in the Americas • Large game animals were not domesticated in the New World. • Three caloric staples were domesticated by Native American farmers: • Maize: corn • Potatoes • Manioc: cassava • The most significant contrast between Old and New World food production involved animal domestication.

  32. The First Farmers in the Americas • Mesoamerica • Eastern U.S. • South-central Andes • Food production independently invented in at least three areas of the Americas:

  33. The Tropical Origins of New World Domestication • Peruvian squash seeds date back 10,000 years. • 9,000 and 8,000 BP: farmers selected desirablecharacteristics in cultivated plants • 7,000 years ago: farmers expanded their plots into the nearby forests • New World farming began in the lowlands of South America and spread to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands.

  34. Tropical Origins of New World Domestication • Teosinte: the wild ancestor of maize • Maize cultivation had spread to the tropical Mexican Gulf Coast by 7,300 BP. • Maize domestication took place in the lowlands of southwest Mexico.

  35. The Mexican Highlands • Small animals more important than big game • Oaxacans hunted and gathered in fall/winter • Came together in late spring to harvest seasonally available plants • By 4,000 BP: a type of maize was available that provided more food than mesquite pod • By 3,500 BP: permanent village were set up, based on maize farming • Before farming, highlanders hunted:

  36. Explaining the Neolithic • Development of a full-fledged Neolithic economy required settling down. • Sedentism became especially attractive when several species of plants and animals were available locally. • The Fertile Crescent had the largest area with a Mediterranean climate, and had the highest diversity of species. • Several factors converged to make domestication happen:

  37. Withclimatechange, populationgrowth, andtheneedforpeopletosustainthemselves in themarginalzones, hunter-gatherersstartedcultivating.

  38. Explaining the Neolithic • Some world areas managed independently to invent domestication • Inventory too meagertomaintain a Neolithiceconomy. • Presence or absence of domesticable animals helps explain divergent trajectories • Perhaps key factor is animal social structure (theeasiestwildanimalstodomesticatelive in hierarchicalherds, henceareaccustomedtodominancerelations). • Why no carts in the New World? • Full-fledged Neolithic economy requires a minimal set of nutritious domesticates

  39. Geography and the Spread of Food Production • The geography of the Old World facilitated a diffusion of plants, animals, technology (wheelsandvehicles), and information (writing). • In Eurasia, plants and animals could spread more easily east–west than north–south. • The spread of Middle Eastern crops southward into Africa was eventually halted by climatic contrasts.

  40. Geography and the Spread of Food Production • A lack of large animals suitable to domestication also slowed the Neolithic transition in the Americas. • In what is now the United States, the east–west spread of farming (southeast to southwest) was slowed by dry climates of Texas, southern great plains

  41. Figure 11.4: Major Axes of the Continents

  42. Costs and Benefits • Spinning and weaving • Pottery and brickmaking, arched masonry • Smelting and casting metals • Trade and commerce • By 5,500 BP, Middle Easterners were living in vibrant cities. • Food production brought the advantages of discovery and invention.

  43. Costs and Benefits • The new economy also brought hardship: • Food producers typically work harder than foragers. • Herds, fields, and irrigation systems need care. • Producers have more children.

  44. Costs and Benefits • Diets become less varied • Disease grows easier to spread (populationconcentration) • Social inequality and poverty increase • Resourcesare no longercommongoods. Slaveryinvented. Wealthdifferentials. Crime, war. • The rate at which human beings degrade their environments increases with food production. • Deforestation in theMiddle East. • Public health declines

  45. Recap 11.3: The Benefits and Costs of Food Production (Compared with Foraging)