The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Plant Domestication

agricultural revolution
Figure 1.--This Egyptian painting shows peasants threshing grain. It was found in the tomb of Menna at El Qurna and dated to 1422-11 BC during the 18th dynasty. Wheat was developed in Mesopotamia and Egypt from domestic grsses to a cereal with a nutrious heavy head.

Plant domestication was the key to the development of civilization. . Cereals were crucial. Other crops such as peas, beans, and squash were domesticated, but cereals are the key crop. Only cereals can be produced on a vast scale as well as stored and transported. Thus the development of civilization is strongly associated with the development of agriculture, specifically domesticated cereal crops. The native cereals did not exist that could produce bountiful harbests. They had to be genetically engineered by people who had no idea of genetics. Cereals permitted the production of a surplus and development of cities abd advanced civilization including writing, technology and the arts. Only the intensive cultivation of cereals could bring this about. The first major domesticated cereal crops were wheat and barley developed in Mesopotamia and adopted by Egypt and the Indus Valley peoples. All three of these civilizations were in contact with each other. The other was rice developed by China. Native Americans were still in the stone age when the Europeans arrived, but they had developed two crops that would profoundly reshape World, especiallu European society--corn and potatosCorn was thus one of the crops developed by man to found the first civilizations, in this case Meso-Americn civilizations. Corn was the last, but proved to be the most important. The potato was the basis for Andean civilizations, but by itself was not sufficent to support the development of major civilizations beyound the reach of local commnities. This changed when the corn developd in Meso-America reached what is now Peru and the Andean civilizations that had developed there.


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Created: 1:17 AM 4/10/2017
Last updated: 5:53 AM 1/30/2018