Ancient Origins Of Agriculture: Anthropology Vs Mythology

Origins Of Agriculture

Ancient Origins Of Agriculture
Anthropology Vs Mythology



By John Prytz

One of the bigger mysteries in modern anthropology is the origins of agriculture.  Why transition from nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to agricultural-based settlements. This is known as the “Agricultural Revolution”. There are as many ideas and theories for the independent and relatively sudden transition from hunter-gatherer to settlements dependent of farming, as there are anthropologists who have pondered the issue. There are proposals for origins of agriculture which include external factors vs. internal (social, cultural, economic) factors; global conditions vs. local conditions; climate related vs. population related; or a combination of circumstances: maybe even just the “it’s time” factor.

The issue is the transition all happening at roughly the same time – about 10,000 years ago, give or take, in Europe, Mesoamerica, the Andean cultures, Egypt, the Middle East, Asia, etc. especially in the Fertile Crescent, N.E. China and Central America. Only North America (with the exception of the eastern half of what would become the United States), Australia and the far northern regions, like Siberia, retained for the most part a nomadic lifestyle.

But the really anomalous thing is that ever since our ancestors came down out of the trees and started walking upright, for all those millions of years, until roughly 10,000 years ago, we were hunter-gatherers or nomads. Then all of a sudden, wham, we settle down and raise crops and become ‘civilized’ just about universally across the social, cultural and geographical board. No one really has solid evidence to explain why.

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About The Author

John Prytz  is a science librarian; retired.


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