Archaeology
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When Agriculture Began



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"When Agriculture Began"
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The  actual first beginnings of agriculture started so long ago and in so many places it's hard to be specific about the precise origins but the following are the probabilities of what created this change in human consumption. Agriculture started when the hunter-gatherers could no longer feed their families with what grew naturally.  Information gathering is modern man’s pastime and occupies as much of his time as did primitive man’s search for berries, nuts, and wild animals for food. In the last fifty years, the quest to learn when, where, and especially why domestication began and nature’s bounty as a food source ceased has been an academic goal.

Most online sites agree on the date and place of where agriculture first took root, 10,000 years ago in the fertile crescent — “The Near East: an area known as the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia which includes parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel” — and all offer similar theories on when and why agriculture started.

Later, this spread to other areas as people migrated in search of better living conditions and better methods of feeding their families and their livestock. The first animals domesticated for work on the farms and as a food source were dogs, sheep and goats. Prior to the development of agriculture people hunted animals and gathered berries, nuts, fruits and edible vegetables and roots. But why, researchers ask, was this necessary?

To get answers today one need look no further than online. And by far, the most interesting and possibly the most controversial of the web sites that attempt to answer the origin of agriculture is by Greg Wadley and Angus Martin. They raise questions and open up discussions that most others hint at but do not venture into. Others stay mainly in the accepted areas of research and don’t expound on topics that would raise still yet more questions that can’t be answered factually. What are the most prevailing theories?

“The oasis theory proposes that after the Pleistocene era, the last great glacial advance that ended about 12,000 years ago, a major period of desiccation occurred. Humans and animals sought refuge in oases that could support them, like the Fertile Crescent in Mesopotamia.”

Furthering that explanation the writer explained that once humans began domesticating animals and changing the rules of nature by supplying their own criteria for farming and the production of food, genetic changes began to take place which converted the human body to the newer type of food being consumed.

By way of example, that theory fits in with the reasoning behind the gluten-intolerant problem escalating today; some people still retain remnants from the pre-agriculture times and their systems have not totally adapted to cultivated grains such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. That too, it must be understood, is only a theory and other reasons may be at the core of this mal-absorptive diseased condition. V. Gordon Childe, an Australian archeologist proposed the oasis theory in 1936.

Another theory he proposed — according to the above listed website but credited to Robert Braidwood in 1948 by Wikipedia — was the Hilly Flanks Hypothesis. This moves the place of agriculture to the hilly sections of the Taurus and Zagros Mountains of the Fertile Crescent. This is where the grain was growing most intensively.

Brian Hayden is supposed to have proposed that hunger for power caused a shift from hunter gathering to domesticity. He called this the feasting model. This theory suggested that since large quantities of food were necessary because of the increased population, enough food simply couldn't be found by hunting and gathering, and therefore they they solved the problem by growing their own food and not leaving their nutrition entirely up to nature. Demographic  theories are similiar to the feasting model theory: Necessity forced ancient people to begin raising their own animals and plants for food because there were insufficient supplies to feed the growing populations. These are popular possibilities for the origin of agriculture.

Cultural progress theories are the oldest thinking on the origin of agriculture. And as more and more researchers theorize, more ideas are available for the interested newcomers to wade through when trying to get at the bottom, or at the beginning of agriculture. Needless to say, this clouds the field even further.

What then is absolutely known about origins of agriculture? The first people on earth did not eat grains; they foraged from nature's bounty. It is possible they found these grains growing naturally and discovered ways of making them more plentiful. Exactly how they switched their eating habits is not known. Why is that true? Agriculture began long before records were kept. Speculation, the enemy of truth, or the door by which it mutates, offers theories, nothing more. This must be kept in mind when trying to arrive at truths that are impossible to know. The professionals who theorize keep this in mind.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://archaeology.about.com/od/hterms/g/hunter_gather.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www/ramprieur.com/readings/readings/origins.html/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.life.umd.edu/classroom/bsci124/lec24.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://people.eng.unimelb.edu.au/gwadley/msc/WadleyMartinAgriculture.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f00/web/partner3.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.answers.com/topic/hunting-and-gathering-1
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://courses.washington.edu/anth457/agorigin.htm