“The Agricultural Revolution” is an artifact of our cultural mythology. In short, there was no such thing. Agriculture is nothing more than encouraging the regrowth of the foods you favor, and this is something humans everywhere do to a greater or lesser extent, regardless of their lifestyle, and there’s no reason to think this was not true a hundred thousand years ago. Hunter-gatherers, though they don’t engage in crop agriculture, routinely encourage the regrowth of the foods they favor, in small, unspectacular ways. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they found virtually not a single culture that wasn’t encouraging the regrowth of the foods they favored. In other words, they were all agriculturalists to a certain extent, but not necessarily to the extend of living exclusively on crops. So you see, the idea that people went from foraging to crop agriculture in a single “revolutionary” leap is a just story we tell our children. It simply didn’t happen that way.

ID: 404
posted: 10 May 1999
updated: 10 May 1999