For the past 7 million years, humans have found methods of survival. From the beginning of the human race, until agriculture is discovered and introduced, hunting, gathering, and scavenging was the only viable strategy of getting food (Weisdorf, 2005). These methods have evolved over time as either food supplies increased, decreased or disappeared. There wasn’t a choice but to adapt to their surroundings to survive. From the beginning until about 10,000 years ago, hunting and gathering appeared to be the only viable methods as nothing else had been implemented successfully up to that point. Around 8500 BC, agriculture started to make an appearance in some parts of the world successfully. The transition to agriculture has been slow throughout time andG1 G2 G3 adapted differently and at a different pace in each part of the world. What are some of the factors that led to the slow development of agriculture? G4
Hunting and gathering had been the primary survival method from the beginning of humanity until about 10,000 years ago. Up until the appearance of agriculture, people spent their days out and about trying to gather enough food to feed not only themselves but their families as well. These foods included wild seeds, plants, berries, roots, and meats. This was referred to as a nomadic lifestyle and entailed lots of walking sometimes for little gain. G5 G6 Hunting and gathering were estimated to support around two people per square mile. G7 Around the year 8500 BC, early agriculture started its rise. In the early years of agriculture, early farmers continued to hunt and gather and used agriculture as an additional method of procuring food. Agriculture started to become a competing lifestyle with hunting and gathering in different regions of the world. In the beginning, a lot of people refused to adapt to agriculture and continued to live the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that they had known all their lives, whereas others completely abandoned hunting and gathering in favor of growing their own crops and domesticating animals. G8
Agriculture evolved at differing rates in different regions of the world. In some areas, it arose independently whereas in others it took the importation of already domesticated crops to push the people of that area to use try domesticating their indigenous species. Some of the areas that agriculture is believed to have evolved independently include Southwest Asia, China, Mesoamerica, the Andes of South America, and the Eastern United States (Diamond, 1997). Evidence found in these areas indicates that the people in these regions were domesticating indigenous crops and livestock long before the arrival of any domesticated crops or animals from any other part of the world. Southwest Asia and the Fertile Crescent appear to have the earliest evidence of agriculture starting (around 8500 BC for crops and 8000 BC for animals).
In other parts of the world, there is no evidence to suggest the independent rise of agriculture, so it is believed that agriculture did not start in these regions until after domesticated crops from other regions had arrived. An example of one of these places is Western and Central Europe. Evidence suggests that agriculture started in this region around 6000 BC after the arrival of crops and livestock from Southwest Asia. After the appearance of these crops, it appears that the people of Western and Central Europe worked to domesticate some of their own crops such as poppies. (Diamond, 1997)G9 Agriculture is believed to have spread slowly and developed at different rates in different places is partially because of geography and land barriers that helped prevent the spread of agriculture over time.
Factors that contributed to the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture as described by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs, and Steel include: a decline in the availability of wild foods, an increased availability of domesticate-able plants, the development of new technologies that aided in the collecting, processing and storing of foods, and both the rise in population density and rise in food production. These tools and advancements are some of the factors that aided in the shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture.
With hunting and gathering as the predominant survival strategy, it was likely that the supply would eventually run short. The life of a hunter-gatherer became less rewarding as the supplies started to run short. More time was spent searching for food with less substance coming from these searches. Some of the species that they had learned to rely on had started to become endangered or disappeared entirely. Evidence suggests that quite a few of the large mammal species had become extinct over the years, some due to hunting but some due to changes in climate and food sources. This lack of wild food G10 helped drive the agricultural revolution that followed.
Development of new technologies around this time was a huge factor in the development of agriculture. Some of these technologies include sickles for harvesting grains, baskets to carry grains and other foods home, mortars and pestles, and techniques to store grains so that they could keep for longer and last throughout the winter. These technologies and tools unintentionally led to the rise of agriculture, specifically the planting of crops, in these regions. It was not a conscious decision to start farming, as there were no models of it to be observed at the time it arose (Diamond, 2002). There was no way for them to know that what they were headed toward or what consequences, both good and bad, would result from this decision (Diamond, 2002). Hunter-gatherers had been collecting seeds, plants, and roots and bringing them back to their camps for years, unintentionally aiding the domestication of these plants. This is the root of domesG11 tication in its earliest years, without the intentional planting of them for growth.
The evidence presented all play a role in the rise of agriculture both independently in certain areas and along with other developments in other parts of the world. This involved the domestication of both plants and animals which took place over many years in different regions of the world. The factors that led to the development and rise of agriculture appear to be independent of each other but taken together appear to provide a significant push to find G12 a better, more efficient way of supplying themselves with food. By developing new technologies, they had the potential to have a better future with their food supply right at their house as opposed to having to leave and gather all day. Agriculture eventually displaced hunter-gatherers in most areas and G13 became the primary food procurement strategy, partially in part to the lack of wild foods in the areas and a need to survive. G14