Agriculture History Briefly Explained

You can read first component of this article here for other four articles you need to to click on the link you want know more about that component. The history of agriculture may be divided into five broad periods of unequal length, differing widely in date according to region:
1. Prehistoric,
2. History through the Roman period,
3. Feudal,
4. Scientific,
5. Industrial.
A counter trend to industrial agriculture, known as sustainable (exploiting natural resources without destroying ecological balance of an area), agriculture or organic farming, may represent yet another period in agricultural history.

PREHISTORIC

Early farmers were, archaeologists agree, largely of Neolithic culture (latest period of stone age, between about 8000 BC and 5000 BC,characterized by the development of settled agriculture and use of polished stone tools and weapon) Sites occupied by such people are located in southwestern Asia in what are now Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey ; in southeastern Asia, in what is now Thailand; in Africa, along the Nile River in Egypt; and in Europe, along the Danube River and in Macedonia, Thrace, and Thessaly (historic regions of southeastern Europe).

Early centers of agriculture have also been identified in the Huang He (Yellow River) area of China; the Indus River valley of India and Pakistan; and the Tehuacán Valley of Mexico, northwest of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The dates of domesticated plants and animals vary with the regions, but most predate the 6th millennium BC, and the earliest may date from 10,000 BC. Scientists have carried out carbon-14 testing of animal and plant remains and have dated finds of domesticated sheep at 9000 BC in northern Iraq; cattle in the 6th millennium BC in northeastern Iran; goats at 8000 BC in central Iran; pigs at 8000 BC in Thailand and 7000 BC in Thessaly; onagers, or asses, at 7000 BC in Iraq; and horses around 4000 BC in central Asia. The llama and alpaca were domesticated in the Andean regions of South America by the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.




According to carbon dating, wheat and barley were domesticated in the Middle East in the 8th millennium BC; millet and rice in China and Southeast Asia by 5500 BC; and squash in Mexico about 8000 BC. Legumes found in Thessaly and Macedonia are dated as early as 6000 BC. Flax was grown and apparently woven into textiles early in the Neolithic Period.

The transition from hunting and food gathering to dependence on food production was gradual, and in a few isolated parts of the world this transition has not yet been accomplished. Crops and domestic meat supplies were augmented by fish and wildfowl as well as by the meat of wild animals. The farmer began, most probably, by noting which of the wild plants were edible or otherwise useful and learned to save the seed and to replant it in cleared land. Lengthy cultivation of the most prolific and hardiest plants yielded stable strains. Herds of goats and sheep were assembled from captured young wild animals, and those with the most useful traits—such as small horns and high milk production—were bred. The wild aurochs was the ancestor of European cattle, and an Asian wild ox of the zebu, was the ancestor of the humped cattle of Asia. Cats, dogs, and chickens were also domesticated very early.

Neolithic farmers lived in simple dwellings—caves and small houses of sun baked mud brick or reed and wood. These homes were grouped into small villages or existed as single farmsteads surrounded by fields, sheltering animals and humans in adjacent or joined buildings. In the Neolithic Period, the growth of cities such as Jericho (founded about 9000 BC) was stimulated by the production of surplus crops.
Pastoralism (individual country living) may have been a later development. Evidence indicates that mixed farming, combining cultivation of crops and stock rising, was the most common Neolithic pattern. Nomadic herders, however, roamed (wander aimlessly) the steppes (tree less plains covered by grasses} of Europe and Asia, where the horse and camel were domesticated.

The earliest tools of the farmer were made of wood and stone. They included the stone adz, an ax like tool with blades at right angles to the handle, used for woodworking; the sickle or reaping knife with sharpened stone blades, used to gather grain; the digging stick, used to plant seeds and, with later adaptations, as a spade or hoe; and a rudimentary plow, a modified tree branch used to scratch the surface of the soil and prepare it for planting. The plow was later adapted for pulling by oxen.




The hilly areas of southwestern Asia and the forests of Europe had enough rain to sustain agriculture, but Egypt
depended on the annual floods of the Nile River to replenish soil moisture and fertility. The inhabitants of the Fertile
Crescent around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Middle East also depended on annual floods to supply irrigation water. Drainage was necessary to prevent the erosion of land from the hillsides through which the rivers flowed. The farmers who lived in the area near the Huang He developed a system of irrigation and drainage to control the damage caused to their fields in the flood plain of the meandering river.

Although Neolithic settlements were more permanent than the camps of hunting peoples, villages had to be moved
periodically in some areas when the fields lost their fertility from continuous cropping. This was most necessary in northern Europe, where fields were produced by the slash-and-burn method of clearing. Settlements along the Nile River, however, were more permanent, because the river deposited fertile silt annually.



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