History of Agriculture
In the beginning of human history, and for many years that followed, humans were hunter-gatherers, which means they hunted animals for survival and gathered food from existing plants. People lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving from place to place throughout the year, following the food supply during the changing seasons.
However, as the ice age and glaciers covering part of the earth began to melt and retreat, plant life patterns and the areas where growth of plants changed as well. The humans would not need to travel as often because there were plants available for their food supply. The hunter-gatherer societies began to learn about the crops which grew at the different times and places each year.
They could now stay in one place for several years to take advantage of the food sources and cordon off wild crop areas that had the most abundant resources. Most likely, when moving, they would also take herds of livestock using them for milk, meat, fur, and other resources. The food they stored would often need to last for the next season.
The origin of farming dates to around 10,000 years ago somewhere in the Indus Valley, part of the northwestern region of South Asia. A separate development may have taken place in China along the Yangtze River. Humans first domesticated crops and later livestock.
During early civilization, around 5,000 BC, agricultural science and technology was further developed. The Sumerian civilization of the Middle East and other early civilizations knew there was a need for a specialized agricultural workforce for the survival of societies. During this period, irrigation systems were developed, used as a system for watering plants. The focus on agriculture led to the development of the first cities.
The first cities then led to other aspects of society, such as the first written laws, religious practices, social attitudes, and legal codes. Complex societies, like Ancient Egypt, arose before the rise of the Greek civilization, and it was due to their agricultural system.
In Egypt, the Nile River relied heavily on the seasons throughout each year. The river flooded its banks and part of the surrounding countryside, which was called The Inundation. Nearly all aspects of life in Egypt centered around the Nile River, especially their religious structure. The river was life-giving in a small area of the country because Egypt was mostly a desert region.
The Romans and Greeks borrowed much of their agricultural knowledge from the civilizations they had contact, such as those of the ancient Near East such as Mesopotamia, but through the Sumerians. Large-scale animal and plant agriculture began in the Roman Republic. It became more efficient and could sustain the empire's large cities. It became a necessary industry for human survival.
The innovation continued between early and modern civilization. The Arab Agricultural Revolution began due to the diversity of local topographies (landscapes). Crops were grown in the Middle East and Indus Valley and was desired by European societies. It later acted as a trade bridge between the Far East and Europe.
Europe's agricultural history began during the 11th century when the Church became major landholders. Technological advances also took place such as cross-breeding in animal livestock, and other systems of organization. Various remnants of the agricultural systems have been found in Europe. The final modern agricultural development began in the 16th century when crop rotation was begun, where increased yields of crops would take place by switching land use every year. The method was perfected during the 16th century.
Finally, in America, modern agricultural practices were not present until the arrival of European colonists, though the Native Americans did have some limited agricultural practices, but it was not the same across all tribes. It most likely began between 2500 and 2000 BC.
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