Agricultural Revolution

The agricultural revolution or the neolithic revolution is the process that took place when human societies first practiced agriculture and created revolutionary transformations in the socio-economic structures of these societies . This process represents the transition of human societies from hunting and gathering to agriculture and to a settled order never to leave.

This transition marks a very important turning point in roughly 2.5 million years of human history. Humanity has transformed from a hunting-gathering order, which it has maintained for such a long time, to a species that actively changes its environment to meet its needs.

Archaeological data reveal that various plant and animal domestications developed independently in six different regions around the world, without being affected by each other, between 10,000 and 7,000 years ago. The earliest known evidence reveals that these regions are located in the tropics and subtropics of Southwest Asia , South Asia , North and Central Africa , and Central America .

However, the Neolithic Revolution is much more than the technique of producing one or another number of foodstuffs. Over the next millennium, small and nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers, who until then continued the basic way of life of human societies, became settled communities that founded villages and towns.

These societies specialize in growing plants that they will use as foodstuffs, thereby improving their natural environment .they changed. While making use of the food resources available in nature, they have now established dominance over these resources.

Undoubtedly, this dominance was determined by the knowledge they created, the technology they could use, and the regional climatic conditions, especially precipitation.

These developments have led to very important changes in the structure of communities. The ability of a person to produce more food than he can consume (social surplus product) allowed population growth, diversified the division of labor, and allowed the development of art, architecture and culture in general, in the continuation of the development processes that took place on this agricultural revolution. In addition, the emergence of social surplus product allows the emergence of private property and forms of management.made its development necessary.

However, it should be noted that these developments took place fully in the Copper Age . Neolithic societies do not have the capacity to produce social surplus products.

Fully developed examples of these agrarian neolithic societies, including political power , are the Sumerian cities that emerged in the Middle East from 5,500 years ago. These cities also signify the end of the prehistoric neolithic period.

However, it is obvious that social development did not follow the same or similar line in every neolithic community that discovered agriculture, and that the above-mentioned stages did not occur in every society. Therefore, it should be accepted that there is no universal law of social transformations, it varies from region to region.

Transition to agriculture

The concept of the Neolithic Revolution was first used by Australian archaeologist Gordon Childe in the 1920s . Childe invoked this concept to refer to a series of agricultural initiatives that took place in the ancient history of the Middle East.

Map showing the areas where agriculture was started and the spreading lines of agriculture. Fertile Crescent (11,000 years ago), Yangzi River and Yellow River (9,000 years ago) and the New Guinea (9-6 thousand years ago), Mexico (5-4 thousand years ago), America ( 5-4 thousand years ago) thousand years ago), sub-Saharan Africa (5-4 thousand years ago), the US eastern regions (4-3 thousand years ago).

Communities’ transition to agriculture has been described as a revolution , to highlight the broad scope of the impact and extent of changing societies . Agricultural activities were undoubtedly gradually adopted and developed in these societies.

The starting dates of the Agricultural Revolution in different regions have been 10 thousand from today in Melanesia , 4,500 in sub-Saharan Africa and 10,000 – 9000 in the Fertile Crescent , taking into account some important developments . This transition seems to be related to the transition of communities from a largely nomadic or semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled agriculture-based one.

However, these transformations are not a clearly differentiated transition, and it is accepted that the communities that started farming at the end, continued hunting-gathering and switched to a settled lifestyle, and then became agricultural societies.

For example, it is located within the borders of Batman province today and dates back to the 10th-9th centuries BC. dating back millenniaThe Hallan Çemi Mound settlement was a permanently settled community. However, the finds obtained during the excavations show that it was a hunter-gatherer community.

In hunter-gatherer communities that have settled down, it is thought that foraging has become more and more dominant in the daily food requirement of the community. This predominant foraging, and later agriculture, must have started with the domestication of the various plant and animal species allowed by the flora and fauna of the region.

It is possible to say that the transition from hunting-gathering to agriculture was rather reluctant, or rather due to necessity. First of all, agriculture is a mode of production that takes much more effort than hunting and gathering. However, it is clear that these communities gravitated towards agricultural products, mainly cereals , mainly from gazelle meat.

Undoubtedly, this domestication was determined by the orientations of the established culture of that society. In many prehistoric communities, the belief that agriculture and animal husbandry was taught to people by divine powers and that it is by the permission of divine powers to benefit from these blessings in abundance is settled. For example, suitable precipitation for a fruitful harvest is a blessing from the gods, and the gods expect something from people in return. In some societies, this response may be a victim.


Different theories have been developed about the factors that are effective in the orientation of the communities to agriculture. The most well-known of these theories are:

  • The Oasis Theory was first put forward by the American geographer and explorer Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, and was expanded and introduced by Gordon Childe in his “Man Creates Himself” work.
  •  AtlanticHe argues that the aridity of the climate due to the northward shift of low-pressure air cycles in the temperate latitudes of , human communities are forced to retreat to oases and river banks that do not dry all year, and the animals there are inevitably forced into closer contact with humans. These communities, on the other hand, discovered plant cultivation in this relatively narrow geography. Today, however, this theory is not supported by archaeologists. Because the climatic data show that in the mentioned period, instead of drought, a rainy climate continued in these regions.
  • Core field theory is a theory put forward by the archaeologist Robert J. Braidwood in 1948. Braidwood argues that agriculture first began on the hilly slopes of the Taurus Mountains and Zagros Mountains .
  • According to Braidwood, they switched to agriculture with a cultural development that led people to get to know the creatures around them better.
  •  The basis of Childe’s theory states that these regions, on the contrary, have a rainy climate and contain a wide variety of plants and animals suitable for domestication. 
  • One theory put forward by Brian Hayden also argues that some forces sought respectability through pompous feasts, the discovery of agriculture by the need to find large quantities of food for these feasts.
  • According to the Demographic theory put forward by the American geographer Carl O. Sauer and developed by Lewils Binford  and Kent Flannery, a community settled in a given environment expanded to the limits of its capacity to feed and needed more food than it could gather. However, Saure admits that this is not a state of famine. Because a community in famine has no time to explore agriculture.
  • Purposeful/evolutionary theory developed by David Rindos views agriculture as an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans.
  •  With the collection of wild plant species, these plants began to become domesticated over time. Over time, this community in a particular area became much more familiar with the flora and fauna of the area, resulting in a thriving harmony between plants, humans, and animals. Rindos describes it as “coevolution within an ecological framework.”
  • Peter Richerson, Robert Boyd, and Robert Bettinger schematized the development of agriculture in a stable climate progressively as in the Holocene (ten thousand years ago to the present).
  •  A series of lectures by Ronald Wright on social collapses were collected in a book called A Brief History of Development, and this hypothesis became known to the scientific community and the public.
  • Australian historian Andrew Moore attributes the dawn of the Neolithic Revolution to a long period in the late Mesolithic Era . Frank Hole, who wrote a book called “The Reevaluation of the Neolithic Revolution,” extended the relationships between the domestication of animals and plants much further.
  •  Hole puts forward the idea that independent developments may have occurred in different periods of time in as yet unknown regions. 20 km from Damascus . He noticed that there were no remains of domesticated animal species (goat, sheep, cattle and pig) up to the 8th millennium BC at Ramad Mound , a prehistoric settlement in the southwest . JerichoIt was claimed that it was found in Asvad Tumulus together with the oldest emmer, as the findings put forward by Maria Hopf regarding the cultivation of emmer wheat and barley in .
  •  According to the conclusion of the Hole, it was important to investigate the dry valleys formed by rain water in the last ice age in the western part of the Euphrates River and especially on the southernmost shores of the Arabian Peninsula .
  • The most comprehensive theory of the emergence of agriculture is that of Charles Darwin . Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Contemporary Biology and Anthropologyhad a profound effect on This theory accepts the emergence of agriculture as an invention or discovery.
  • According to Darwin, hunter-gatherer societies learned by trial and error what edible plants (although it required cooking or boiling) from the plants growing around them.
  • The seeds of these plants were involuntarily scattered around their lodgings, and new sprouts sprang up in this well-fertilized soil.
  • A fruit tree or a wheat seed falling into a waste pile will sprout there, and this will attract people’s attention after a while. For Darwin, the transition to agriculture was an observational and somewhat inspired discovery. Undoubtedly, what is meant here is a settled hunter-gatherer community. Darwin, like many scientists, was of the opinion that nomads could not develop agriculture.

Plant culturing

Societies that started agricultural production initially used wild seeds.

After a while, they began to separate larger grains as seeds. The ones that were preferred in other cultivated plants were harvested, the others were left. No seeds were taken from plants with smaller seeds or disliked / unpreferred plants. Unpreferred seeds remained on the plant, and a small fraction of them naturally had a chance to germinate the following year.

A hand mill from the Neolithic Age

The preferred seeds, on the other hand, were stored and sown for the next harvest. artificial selectionThis practice, described as ‘the stigma’, eventually led to the evolution of plants cultivated by human societies into an entirely preferable species. As a result, the culturing of the cultivated plants enabled these plants to be adopted and cultivated continuously. As a result, it was more abundant and easier to harvest, and it could be stocked more safely. The result was that these communities had more abundant and stable food sources.

This situation revealed species with larger grains and non-fragile spike axes, especially in cereals. The advantage of coarser grained species for humans is obvious. Fragile and the spike axis is directly related to the efficiency of the harvest. In wild grain species, the spike axes are brittle and the grains are scattered even in a light breeze.

Before the savage grain-gatherers gathered these ears, some of them had already been shed. What’s more, just as much was lost during harvest and transport. In domestic species, the non-fragile spike axis prevents loss before harvest as well as grain loss during harvest.

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