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Summarise and Compare the Evidence for the Development of Agriculture Essay

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The two continents provide a very different insight into the development of agriculture. America with its slow alterations, for example the gathering that continued and the consistency of crops remaining in their natural habitat until much later for example the May grass. South West Asia reveals a different approach where although still gradual development the use of tools and grinders support the discovery of cultivation and domestication leading this continent towards villages and eventually civilizations with trade and travel as its force for change as early humans emulated and adapted.

The southwest begins its agricultural shift in a position of power in comparison to the Americas. Varying plants and animals that could eventually be domesticated. The south west was ideal for hunting and gathering producing much flora and fauna with the 250mmr of rainfall. Significant changes occurred around 1100-9600 BC with the Younger Dryas cooling the terrain. Dependency on hunting may have proven a hardship and cultivation being more labour intensive yet reliable as means of control appears to have defined beginning as the environment returned and stabilised .

By 6000BC agriculture proved successful and became widespread. This marked the beginning of the Neolithic villages and the eventual culture shift to ceramics and religion. North America had a later progress, the beginnings of cultivation began in Mesoamerica and may have spread north by migrates who imprinted their knowledge. Larger amounts of maize were discovered in smaller apparently less developed sites in South west north America showing an already developed cultigens in foreign terrain. South west Asia also saw a large spread out from the ‘hilly flanks’ referenced by Flannery.

North America had limited cultigens in comparison to south west Asia. The Americas having s examples such as quash, maize, beans sump weed , sunflowers and beans. Asia produced wheat, barley, rye and an assortment of wild animals residing on the hilly flanks that could be successfully domesticated such as sheep and goats. South west Asia’s key produce was the Rye revealed by studies into the Jordan valley and Syria during the intensified cultivating years of the Neolithic period around 8800 BC.

Leading to a population growth which does not become obvious in north America as nomadic living continues and although cultigens were successfully developed a dependency on hunting and gathering was favoured. Squash was used as floats for fishing and so thinner membranes were preferred later their touch exterior was preferred when needed as bowls. An example of change by humans. Social exchange features in both areas although it appears that the feasting theory is better supported by southwest Asia as Americas show a reluctance to settle and created lineages.

At Carlston Annis, South west north America a much later site entering the woodland period provided human faecal matter that proved a major dependency on wild foods especially from the woods. It would appear that after thousands of years of cultivation with travel and trade the hunter gatherers still relied on the foods. This reluctance does not appear in southwest Asia. The manipulation of crops and animals provide direct link to the first semi-sedentary farmers called the Natufians in the late Epipaleolithic 12,000-9600.

Material remains and cultural traits are in key areas, subsequent layers of deposits reveal long and repeated occupation. Stone implements as morters for grinding . The Natufians had also left the shelter of the cave to build their own structures ( Dorothy Garrod 1898-1968). The late Paleoindians relied on rock shelters and created major earthworks as shown at Koster in Illinois and Eva in Tennessee. Eva showing links to the earlier Paleo-Indian with its recognisable toolkit found in the archaic site ( The human past 2005).

In conclusion these very different crops led to a very different pace of change between the two continents. Asia’s steady but sure cultivation started a fast pace route to civilisation that of which the Americas did not. The Americas environment allowed for small agriculturists with irrigation sites such as at La capas dating 1250 BC. A slow development in contrast to Asia. However the burials at Eva do mirror the evidence found in burial sites such as Ohalo 11: where burials have grave goods and signal some status.

Hinting that cognitive development may have evolved just as Asia’s had but the need for agriculture was less intense therefore a later necessity for the north Americans. Bibleography The Human Past Chapter 6 Trevor Watkins, Chapter 9 David L. Browman, Gayle J. Fritz, Patty jo Watson. David j Meltzer 2005 2009 Thames and Hudson Limited .http://www. archaeology. org/9707/newsbriefs/squash. html http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Neolithic_Revolution#Agriculture_in_the_Americas Part 2 Do you think changing climate was the key force accounting for the development of agriculture?

The two continents America and Asia have a stark difference in the development of agriculture. Evidence of semi-sedentary living can be traced in Southwest Asia 20,000 years at Ohallo II. A ‘boom’ effect fallows the Younger Dryas , this climatic alteration coincides with villages such as Akrotiri . Great expansion also occurs in Israel and Jordan. Neve David is one example that existed in the heart of the Epipaleolithic and so must have been able to sustain and domesticate during this climate. Sites also developed during the drier, cooler Younger Dryas such as the Natufians and Abu Hureyra.

The early Helocene was a moist climate, so the recovery of forestry may have provided more room for expansion given the ‘tight’ years previously. Theories such as Demographic explanations for the development of agriculture, the oasis theory and ‘hilly flanks’ all can coincide with the climatic alterations and suggest reasons for the expansion and successful development of agriculture. The oasis theory can be supported by the ‘die back’ of forestry during the Younger Dryas, it can also be supported by the rising of sea levels at the end of the last Global Maximum.

Space may have forced humans, plants and animals in closer proximity and therefore utilized each others recourses. Plants also showed a willingness to adapt to human interaction such as Barley developing a tougher rachis and animals co-existing to live off waste for example. The Americas give a good example of co-existing with its reluctance to give up the hunter gatherer way of life completely. The woodland era’s caves provide remains that show wild foods were widely depended on and storage was key, rather than constant agriculture.

Tools were designed for nomadic lifeways although were capable of processing cultivated foods such as Maize and Gourd. Although the nomadic life style of the north Americans the delayed acceptance of agriculturist means suggest a degree of free movement therefore the oasis theory may not be relevant in the Americas as with southwest Asia. The demographic theory details a supply and demand scenario. Southwest Asia’s many aceramic Neolithic settlements can support this theory as they grew and often extinguished themselves for example Catalhoyuk.

Slash and burn techniques cleared forests and settlements meant birth rates were higher. The Helocene climate may have assisted in the population increase providing a reliable source of nourishment. Stable temperatures meant that earlier developed techniques could be used in abundance in contrast to earlier erratic climates that did not allow certain plants to reach full potential Plants put more energy into seed growing that wood fibres they adapted to the climate and so humans can be seen to have adapted also to suit the plants suggesting the evolutionary theory that he switch to agriculture was a natural development.

Population increase remained low in north America and so the climatic revival appears to have no effect as such. The ‘Hilly Flanks’ theory suggests a nutritious beginning of which the climate was able to sustain the ideal potential domesticates. This theory limits the geographical opportunity of the development of agriculture therefore suggests that climate change may have not been a key point in the development of agriculture as it appears to have occurred alternatively in a key area instead.

This is supported by the agricultural development in Mesoamerica and the spread to the North. Examples being Squash in North America already showing signs of domestication even though new to the area. The feasting theory can be linked to the expansion and demographic theory and serves as an explanation for larger settlements leaving many artefacts such as grave goods and evidence of trade and travel. Catalhoyuk abundance and appreciation of goods is not match in early North America although appreciation of shells and beads are apparent.

Travel and trade may have been possible due to the Holocene stable climate that was not possible previously and therefore and good candidate for techniques being emulated and therefore spreading, the Natufians for example. In conclusion the climatic was a key force in the development of agriculture, however as part of other key developments. No one theory explains the diversity in agricultures beginnings or its geographical variety.

Climate does play an important role in providing these developments but alternative key forces such as the region, terrain, flora and fauna appear to dictate the place, success and timing of such developments, not the climatic situation alone. Humans domestication of animals features mainly in Asia, North America reveals very little. This would suggest that region and continent had more to dictate in the development of agriculture providing a ‘recipe’ rather than one ingredient that spurred a global change

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