Neolithic Revolution: Pastoralism and Agriculture


The Neolithic Revolution is the transformation of human societies from being hunter-gatherer based to agriculture based. This period, which occurred between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago, brought along many profound changes to human society and culture, including the creation of cities and permanent dwellings, labor specialization, the baking of bread and brewing of beer, personal property, more complex hierarchical social structures, non-agricultural crafts, slavery, the state, official marriage, personal inheritance, and more. The term "Neolithic revolution" refers both to the period of time when it occurred as well as the enduring changes it caused.
Tens of thousands of years ago, there were no crops: only the primitive ancestors of the plants we recognize as being edible. After hundreds or thousands of generations of purposeful and accidental selection by human farmers, who would destroy or confiscate the seeds of plants with undesirable qualities, we domesticated strains optimized for maximum nutrition and largest yield. The so-called "Neolithic founder cops" include emmer, einkorn, barley, lentil, pea, chickpea, bitter vetch, and flax. These are all new species created by human intervention into wild ancestor species.
The use of fields for crop-growing and granaries for the storage of food simplify this whole nutrition endeavor for humans, allowing for non-farming occupations in society. Trade and barter systems emerged, as well as informal currencies. Farmers could be paid for supplying others with food. Soldiers could be trained and armies raised. The creation of personal goods and food stores meant that plundering from raiders became more common, necessitating a soldier class to protect the farmers. The Neolithic revolution was the first fundamental restructuring of human affairs seen in a couple hundred thousand years.
The Neolithic revolution first emerged in the Fertile Crescent, around present-day Iraq, which would also be the founding site of the world's first large cities, including Babylon. Mankind was most active and prosperous around the Near and Middle East at this time. Some of the oldest known human settlements were founded in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey just a couple thousand years after the conclusion of the Neolithic revolution.
(from: www.wisegeek.com)