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Origins of Agriculture

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Title: Origins of Agriculture Author: Marco Meniketti Last modified by: Marco Meniketti Created Date: 2/16/2007 6:46:39 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Origins of Agriculture


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Origins of Agriculture
  • Roots of civilization

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  • Transition from systematic harvesting of wild
    plants to cultivation. Chapter 5 in text. See
    also pdf readings
  • Evidence from multiple sources palynology,
    zooarchaeology, environmental archaeology,
    paleobotany, farming technology, food storage
    practices, stable isotope analysis

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Hypotheses to Explain Agriculture
  • Big question after 2 million years of human
    development, why the change in dietary habits?
    When and exactly where agriculture took root is
    still being worked out, but it appears first
    archaeologically in the Anatolian plateau.

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The fertile crescent
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Key questions for these hypotheses
  • Did population increases occur before or after
    agriculture?
  • What brought about population increases?
  • What conditions had to exist?
  • Which plants were domesticated first?
  • How can we test these conjectures?
  • When did this occur?

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  • Oasis hypothesis
  • Natural habitat hypothesis
  • Population pressures
  • Edge hypothesis
  • Social Hypothesis

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Oasis Hypothesis
  • Domestication begins as a symbiotic relationship
    between humans, plants, and animals at oases.
  • Linked to fertile river valley hypothesis
  • V. Gordon Childe the major proponent of the
    hypothesis.

10
Natural habitat Hypothesis
  • Earliest domesticated plants found in the areas
    of wild ancestors. Humans inhabit zones rich in
    certain easily harvested plants and learn to
    cultivate from observation.
  • Robert Braidwood was a strong advocate for this
    concept. Also tied to the fertile river valley
    hypothesis.

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Edge Hypothesis
  • Pressure to turn to agriculture were greatest at
    the edges or margins of a resource area.
  • Lewis Binford a proponent of this variant of
    population theory.

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Population Pressure Hypothesis
  • Increased populations forced people to turn to
    agriculture.
  • Large populations required greater food surplus
    and also provided labor. Labor needed to be
    managed leading to institutional control among
    priests or chiefs..


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  • Irrigation management
  • Agricultural development could not lead to
    civilization without water management strategies

Robert Mc Adams
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Fertile Crescent
  • Scene of earliest old world farming also the
    region of earliest urban centers and States.
  • Natufian culture the first farmers?

Ofer bar-Josef
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Late neolithic technology from Natufian cultural
region
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Concept
  • Archaeological cultures
  • societies known only through archaeology and from
    shared traits, such as common burial practices,
    technologies, diets, and lifestyles.

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Natufian burial
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Necklace of animal teeth.
Fetal position Natufian burial
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Remnant Natufian quern for processing grain.
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Important early sites of agriculture
  • Natufian region (Bar-Josef)
  • Jarmo (Robert Braidwood)
  • Jericho (Kathleen Kenyon)
  • Mehrgarh
  • Ban-po-tsun

Dame Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho
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Chronology
  • Current estimates are that intermittent and
    seasonal harvesting of wild foods begins 11,000
    years ago.
  • Actual cultivation by settled communities can be
    traced to 9000 years ago.
  • Jarmo continues to be considered the site of
    earliest confirmed agriculture, but new sites are
    being investigated which may change this view.


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Important Cultigens from the archaeological
record
  • Einkron wheat
  • Emmer wheat
  • Barley
  • Lentils
  • Grapes
  • Figs
  • In the far East rice
  • In Americas potatoes, manioc, yams

Plastered ancestor skull from Jericho.
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Einkron wheat (cultivated)
Emmer wheat
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barley
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Technologies of agriculture
  • Sickles made from antler and obsidian microliths
  • Sickle gloss evidence (micro wear analysis)
  • Grinding stones (querns, mortars, pestles)
  • Storage jars
  • Storage pits
  • Granaries in architecture.

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Obsidian sickle blade studied for wear patters
and trace chemical residues.
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Positive Side effects
  • Agriculture leads to sedentary populations.
  • Surplus can provide in lean times.
  • Surpluses can be traded for other commodities.
  • Surpluses mean some fraction of the population
    does not have to engage in food production.
  • This gives rise to different roles within society
    and produces social stratification.

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  • Also beer !
  • http//www.anchorbrewing.com/beers/ninkasi.htm

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Negative Side Effects
  • Dependencies on crop and climate stability
  • Must be defended.
  • Larger populations require more work to feed.
  • Large sedentary populations create lots of waste,
    sewage, pollution

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  • Control over irrigation of water, water
    distribution, or surplus food production are
    closely linked to rise of States level societies.
    But did one precede the other or was it a tandem
    process?
  • Did struggle over water create system of power?
    Who was in charge? Chiefs? Priests?

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Rise to Civilization
  • Evidence suggests that in the ancient Near East,
    control over irrigation and water resources was
    fundamental to the rise of powerful city-states.

Tower structure at Jericho 7000 years ago.
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  • Elsewhere, agriculture supported complex
    chiefdoms.
  • Agricultural surplus allows war, writing,
    schools, the invention of history, new
    technologiesbut also links civilizations
    directly to environmental dependency,
    degradation, and potential demise.

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State Level Organization
  • States can be defined as independent kingdoms
    with specific self-sustaining institutions and
    centralized authority.

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States
  • States have rank divisions, institutionalized
    government and hierarchical power structures,
    (institutional monopoly of military) urban
    living, division of labor with craft
    specialization, standardized laws, control over
    resources, social stratification, monumental
    architecture, and frequently a powerful
    stratified religious authority.

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Coming next Monday
  • Catal Hoyuk in Turkey
  • Civilizations in Mesopotamia.
  • First cities Ubaid, Uruk, Lagash, Babylon, the
    Sumerian civilization.

41
Tablet with recipe for beer from about 600BC
Evidence exists for brewing as far back as 3500BC.
Sumerian priest drinking beer.
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