the first Agricultural societies

The Advantages of an Agricultural Society

Humans began to grow their own food at the end of the Ice Ages as the final ice melted and soil now became visible to them.  The last Ice Age was 10,000 BC and people saw the green ground below them and the plants that could be grown there. There were many advantages to growing their own food instead of going out and hunting for it. The most important of these was that people were now able to settle in one location, and instead of spending their time moving around in search of food, they could now stay put and focus more on developing their craft.

Farming first began in Mesopotamia, on the Fertile Crescent. The name Mesopotamia was given to the area by the Greeks, and means the land between rivers. The region lies between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and it is not surprising that this land was good for farming. Most agricultural civilizations developed near rivers, be it The Egyptians and the Nile River, the Chinese and The Yellow River, or India and The Indus River Valley. But while all of these regions had one strong river that was powerful enough to make the soil that surrounded it very fertile, the people of Mesopotamia had two such rivers. Therefore, it is very easy to understand why agriculture started in this part of the world.

People began to notice the advantages of agriculture as they started experiencing the need to hunt less and less. Farming was something that could be controlled much more easily than hunting, which depended on the animals that were abundant in the region. With the increase of population, due to a more stable amount of food production from the ground, it would be more difficult to move around in the same manner as nomads. The young needed to be raised and this was much easier to do if the group was staying in one central location.

With people now being able to stay by their crops, they were able to make homes nearby. This was something that nomads, who were always on the move, did not have the same opportunities to provide for themselves. With more time and more dedication to their homes, people built shelters that were now more permanent and more strongly  built.

I believe the reason for all of these improvements was mostly because of people having more time.  They were now able to make “a wider variety of tools, clothes, and other belongings” (Judge, 11). This is directly related to staying in one location. They knew the land better since it was their land, that they were now living on for some time. With the knowledge of the land came knowledge of where to find materials to develop better tools for working and for building homes.

Aside from this, when people were hunting, they were always in search of wildlife. But now, with their food growing in one spot, while they were waiting for crops to grow they had more time to attend to other needs. They could now sit down and take the time to look at what they were really making and what ideas they were coming up with. They could then share these ideas with others.

“While women were developing methods of growing food in the ground, hunters realized that some animals could be domesticated and would reproduce when put among each other,” (Judge, 12).I believe these realizations also come from the people having more time on their hands to stop and ponder and notice new ideas and share them. They were no longer on the move looking for places where they could settle down for a night and use as a temporary shelter, the way nomads did. Instead, they could spend their time perfecting new ideas and developments.

The domestication of animals was a major component of the agricultural revolution.  Now the people had “ongoing food sources,” such as the milk from a cow, that could be taken without killing the animals (Judge, 12).  Leaving these animals alive allowed the animals the opportunity to keep providing for the people.

With all of the advantages of turning from a nomadic way of life into an agriculturally-based society, there were also some unexpected disadvantages. For one, raising crops took the right kind of climate and land. When the weather turned cold, animals might go elsewhere and the people could follow them. But crops simply wouldn’t grow. People now had to move to new areas where the climate was warmer and crops could be grown. This moving around brought them back to the ways of nomadic life, suddenly needing to build new homes and find different locations to settle down. They weren’t chasing animals, but they were now chasing the climate and warm weather.

Another major problem came from the domestication of animals. The people now faced new “illness coming from living in close proximity to pigs and cattle, (Judge, 16). The people were not expecting this, and did not have any knowledge of these new diseases or methods for treating them.

In some areas, there were no animals nearby that could be domesticated. Still in others, the population increase became not an advantage, but a problem. The people were not able to provide enough food for their growing population and felt that they were better off as nomads where they had just enough food to support everyone in their group. For these reasons, some people continued to pursue a nomadic way of life in spite of the agricultural revolution.

There were both many advantages and many disadvantages to moving from a nomadic society to an agricultural society. People were not used to growing food and did not have the knowledge or practice the way they did of how to hunt wildlife. As an advantage, however, growing food instead of being out hunting allowed the people more time to stay in one place, and with this time they were able to acquire the new ideas and knowledge they needed to develop as farmers. I consider the settled down way of life and more free time to be the most important advantage of choosing to live in an agricultural society because it was the necessary component to make improvements on all other areas of their lives. These new focuses that people now had the time to pursue included arts, protection, and the creation of better tools. All of these improvements were the direct result of settling down and turning to an agricultural way of life.

Bibliography

1.Judge, Edward H., 2009, Connections, A World History, Volume One, to 1650

Vango Books, Pearson Education Inc, New Jersey