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Origins Of Agriculture: The Stepping Stone For Civilization

1510 words - 7 pages

Most people do not think highly of the farmer and of agriculture in general. After all, there is no "visible" connection between the rural and the urban life. As long as the food is on the table or in the market, agriculture is simply not important to most people. However, not that many people think that school, sports, movies, and society would not be possible without agriculture. Agriculture was a crucial science that gave rise to the earliest of settlements and allowed humans to grow. Agriculture began around the same time in different areas around the world and with agriculture came the very start of modern civilization. Yet how did agriculture begin, why was the beginning of agriculture ...view middle of the document...

This ability to not have to search for food every second of every day meant that people were able to allocate time to other tasks like building or specialization. As agriculture became more and more valuable, protection was needed and so an army was formed. The leader of these armies soon became the leader of the villages. Eventually, these small villages would give way to cities, dynasties, cultures, governments, and civilizations.
In East Asia, one location in particular is a major origin of agriculture. This area is located around the middle and lower basins of the Huanghe and Yangzi rivers. The adequate rainfall and the rivers allow the region to be extremely fertile. It has been discovered that, as early as seven thousand BC, hunter-gatherers had formed villages around this area and was farming wild rice and foxtail millet. Many believe that this domestication began when hunter-gatherers in Southwest Asia began the practice of replanting such plants to sustain the amount of food available and make this supply easily available. Over time, this system of agriculture improved until there was seed selection, planned harvest seasons, and winter storage. Agriculture became so efficient, that villages and cities were able to form solely on a plant-based economy. In fact, crops became the central focus of many settlement and led to the development of tools , culture, and specialization of skills as more time became available. For example, Jiahu was a city based around rice as the economy and consisted of sunken floored houses, pottery kilns, and a cemetery. The city also showed evidence of the creation of stone tools such as axes, reaping knives, and stone mortars. It was also discovered that they had invented pottery and microblades in order to make harvesting easier and allow the boiling of food to create a flour-based cuisine. The domestication of plants also lead to another aspect of agriculture, which was the domestication of animals. In this particular region, pig, dog, and cattle were the first few animals that were domesticated. This was extremely important because a plant-based diet, while sufficient enough to sustain a large population, actually had less nutrition than the hunter-gatherer diet. Eventually, the domestication of both crops and animals became so important that they were considered a symbol of wealth. The more crops or animals a person had, the more powerful he or she was. In fact a ruler of one of the earliest dynasty, the Chou dynasty, was named "lord of millet". Other crops, like barley, wheat, and soybeans, were even considered luxury crops and were offered as tributes to Chou rulers. It came to a point where protection, class systems, and government was necessary in order to ensure that agriculture was maintained and thrived, since agriculture was so vital the population. As governments and cities became more and more powerful, Neolithic cultures spread throughout China along with different agricultural practices...

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