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The Origins of Agriculture

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(ABSTRACT)

This is a research paper on the origins of agriculture that speaks about much of our early history and the changes we have made to make life much easier, so the use of individual labor is no longer needed as much as before. It includes cultivation, raising and producing crops, raising livestock, and harvesting. Also are the different theories which people believed about agriculture.

Agriculture comprises of the Occupation, business, or science of cultivating the land, producing crops, and raising livestock. Agriculture of plants and animals was developed over ten thousand years ago. Agriculture has had many important developments since the time of the earliest cultivation. Western Asia, Egypt, and India were sites of the earliest planned sowing and harvesting of plants that had been previously gathered in the wild. Independent Development of agriculture happened in southern China, Africa, and New Guinea, also in several other regions of the Americas. All of their agricultural practices included irrigation, crop rotation, fertilizers, and pesticides. These practices have made great strides this past century.

In the past century, agriculture has been characterized by improved productivity which includes the replacement of human labor by using machinery, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, selective breeding, and computerization. All of these new techniques the world has today make life easier for many people. Although times have become hard economically difficult, many people consider the use of modern machinery more practical than that of early history.

In early history, many people have proposed a number of theories to explain the historical development of farming. Most common was the rapid transition of hunter- gatherers, which still exists today. Hunter-gatherers had to intentionally plant crops to make up for shortages of large game and other food that were obtained out in the wild. They also had forest gardens which became world's oldest known agro ecosystems. They used their forest gardens for their plants that were usually watered by the monsoons that hit every year and nestled close to the river banks. The plants that they planted in their forest gardens and near the river banks always had a lot of energy, which produced more seeds. This provided a lot of storable wild grains for the hunter-gathers to have for the winter.

The first theory was the Oasis Theory, which was proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, and popularized by Vere Gordon Childe, who summarized the theory in his book "Man Makes Himself."(Crawford) This theory said that as the climate got drier, communities contracted with Oasis, where they were forced into close association with animals. By doing this they were then domesticated together with planting of seeds. The theory had very little supporting details as far as the climate data for the time period, so there was no evidence to support this theory.

After that came the Hilly Flanks theory in 1948, which suggested that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of Taurus and Zagros Mountains. (Encyclopedia Britannica) They say it developed from focused gathering of grains in the region. Then there was also the Feasting Model by Brian Hayden. (Encyclopedia Britannica) He suggested that agriculture came about by displays of power, such as throwing feasts, which required large amounts of food to be made. He believed that this was the reason agriculture was driven by technology. There also was the Demographic Theories that described agriculture as increasing populations that required more food to be gathered. Then the Domestication theory came about stating that the first humans stayed in certain areas, giving up their nomadic ways which made agriculture what it is along with animal domestication. Another theory is that humans were prevented from staying in one place for much of their history, due to the risk of attacks from other tribes. (Fussell)

During the Neolithic Era (3000 BC), they invented the Sumerian harvester's sickle which was made from backed clay.

 They used this tool to help with cutting down the wild grain from fields. Evidence from sites around the world indicate the use of wild grain go back as far as 20,000 BC. There is also evidence of planned cultivation and trait selection: grains of rye have been recovered from Epi-Paleolithic (10,000+ BC) and Abu Hurevra in Syria. There is also proof that this if a fact resulting from cultivation from strands of rye, rather than a step towards domestication. ("Origins of Agriculture.")

Previously, archaeobotanists/paleoethnobotanists had traced the selection and

cultivation of specific food plant characteristics in search of the origins of agriculture.

One very noticeable example is the semi-tough rachis (the main stem of a flower) and

larger seeds traced to just after (9,500 BC) in the early Holocene in the region of the Fertile Crescent. However, studies have demonstrated characteristics

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