The origins of agriculture
The origins of agricultureFor most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers. And then, about 10,000 years ago, we began to domesticate plants and animals as a way to make our food supply more accessible and predictable. In many ways, the birth of agriculture can be defined as the moment we stopped chasing our food and started raising it.
As humans have advanced agriculture, agriculture has reshaped human civilization. For the most part, these changes have been good ones. But as we enter a new era of human history, agriculture faces new challenges and new responsibilities.
Without a time machine, it’s impossible to know the exact date on which the first human held a seed in his or her hand and thought: “If I plant this in the ground, I’ll know exactly where to find food in a few months.”
What we do know is that sometime around 8,500 BC, humans in the Fertile Crescent (an area that stretches through modern-day Egypt, Israel, Turkey and Iraq) slowly started to plant grains, instead of gathering them in the wild.
By 7,000 BC, they also began to domesticate animals such as sheep, pigs and goats. A thousand years later, they domesticated cattle.
Before the advent of agriculture, humans were nomadic, traveling constantly in search of wild animals and grain. With the rise of agriculture as a predictable, centralized source of food, they suddenly had an incentive to stay put. Cities began to form.
In this way, agriculture began to change not only the human diet, but human civilization as well.
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