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The kola nut was first domesticated in West Africa. Other crops domesticated in West Africa include African rice, yams and the oil palm. Evidence of drainage ditches at Kuk Swamp on the borders of the Western and Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea shows evidence of the cultivation of taro and a variety of other crops, dating back to 11, BP. Two potentially significant economic species, taro Colocasia esculenta and yam Dioscorea sp. Further evidence of bananas and sugarcane dates to 6, to 6, BP.
This was at the altitudinal limits of these crops, and it has been suggested that cultivation in more favourable ranges in the lowlands may have been even earlier. CSIRO has found evidence that taro was introduced into the Solomons for human use, from 28, years ago, making taro cultivation the earliest crop in the world. The Middle East served as the source for many animals that could be domesticated, such as sheep, goats and pigs. This area was also the first region to domesticate the dromedary camel.
Henri Fleisch discovered and termed the Shepherd Neolithic flint industry from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and suggested that it could have been used by the earliest nomadic shepherds. As the climate in the Middle East changed and became drier, many of the farmers were forced to leave, taking their domesticated animals with them.
It was this massive emigration from the Middle East that would later help distribute these animals to the rest of Afroeurasia. This emigration was mainly on an east-west axis of similar climates, as crops usually have a narrow optimal climatic range outside of which they cannot grow for reasons of light or rain changes. For instance, wheat does not normally grow in tropical climates, just like tropical crops such as bananas do not grow in colder climates. Some authors, like Jared Diamond, have postulated that this East-West axis is the main reason why plant and animal domestication spread so quickly from the Fertile Crescent to the rest of Eurasia and North Africa, while it did not reach through the North-South axis of Africa to reach the Mediterranean climates of South Africa, where temperate crops were successfully imported by ships in the last years.
It has long been taken for granted that the introduction of agriculture had been an unequivocal progress. The traditional view is that agricultural food production supported a denser population, which in turn supported larger sedentary communities, the accumulation of goods and tools, and specialization in diverse forms of new labor. The development of larger societies led to the development of different means of decision making and to governmental organization.
Food surpluses made possible the development of a social elite who were not otherwise engaged in agriculture, industry or commerce, but dominated their communities by other means and monopolized decision-making.
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The result is that a population can significantly more-rapidly increase its size than would otherwise be the case, resources permitting. Recent analyses point out that agriculture also brought about deep social divisions and in particular encouraged inequality between the sexes. Andrew Sherratt has argued that following upon the Neolithic Revolution was a second phase of discovery that he refers to as the secondary products revolution. Animals, it appears, were first domesticated purely as a source of meat.
These included:. Sherratt argues that this phase in agricultural development enabled humans to make use of the energy possibilities of their animals in new ways, and permitted permanent intensive subsistence farming and crop production, and the opening up of heavier soils for farming. It also made possible nomadic pastoralism in semi arid areas, along the margins of deserts, and eventually led to the domestication of both the dromedary and Bactrian camel. Overgrazing of these areas, particularly by herds of goats, greatly extended the areal extent of deserts. Living in one spot would have more easily permitted the accrual of personal possessions and an attachment to certain areas of land.
From such a position, it is argued, prehistoric people were able to stockpile food to survive lean times and trade unwanted surpluses with others. Once trade and a secure food supply were established, populations could grow, and society would have diversified into food producers and artisans, who could afford to develop their trade by virtue of the free time they enjoyed because of a surplus of food.
The artisans, in turn, were able to develop technology such as metal weapons. Such relative complexity would have required some form of social organisation to work efficiently, so it is likely that populations that had such organisation, perhaps such as that provided by religion, were better prepared and more successful. In addition, the denser populations could form and support legions of professional soldiers.
Also, during this time property ownership became increasingly important to all people. Ultimately, Childe argued that this growing social complexity, all rooted in the original decision to settle, led to a second Urban Revolution in which the first cities were built. Throughout the development of sedentary societies, disease spread more rapidly than it had during the time in which hunter-gatherer societies existed.
Inadequate sanitary practices and the domestication of animals may explain the rise in deaths and sickness following the Neolithic Revolution, as diseases jumped from the animal to the human population. Some examples of diseases spread from animals to humans are influenza, smallpox, and measles. In their approximately 10, years of shared proximity with animals, such as cows, Eurasians and Africans became more resistant to those diseases compared with the indigenous populations encountered outside Eurasiaand Africa.
Some cultures like the Inca Empire did have a large domestic mammal, the llama, but llama milk was not drunk, nor did llamas live in a closed space with humans, so the risk of contagion was limited. According to bioarchaeological research, the effects of agriculture on physical and dental health in Southeast Asian rice farming societies from to B. During and after the Age of Discovery, European explorers, such as the Spanish conquistadors, encountered other groups of people who had never or only recently adopted agriculture. In his book Guns, Germs, and Steel , Jared Diamond argues that Europeans and East Asians benefited from an advantageous geographical location that afforded them a head start in the Neolithic Revolution.
Both shared the temperate climate ideal for the first agricultural settings, both were near a number of easily domesticable plant and animal species, and both were safer from attacks of other people than civilizations in the middle part of the Eurasian continent. Being among the first to adopt agriculture and sedentary lifestyles, and neighboring other early agricultural societies with whom they could compete and trade, both Europeans and East Asians were also among the first to benefit from technologies such as firearms and steel swords.
In addition, they developed resistances to infectious disease, such as smallpox, due to their close relationship with domesticated animals. Groups of people who had not lived in proximity with other large mammals, such as the Australian Aborigines and American indigenous peoples, were more vulnerable to infection and largely wiped out by diseases. The dispersal of Neolithic culture from the Middle East has recently been associated with the distribution of human genetic markers.
In Europe, the spread of the Neolithic culture has been associated with distribution of the E1b1b lineages and Haplogroup J that are thought to have arrived in Europe from North Africa and the Near East respectively. Skip to main content. Chapter 7: Economic Organization. Search for:. Neolithic Revolution. Neolithic grindstone for processing grain. Tilling with Hungarian Grey cattles. Nile River Valley, Egypt. Maize corn , beans and squash were among the earliest crops domesticated in Mesoamerica, with maize beginning about BC, squash, as early as to BC and beans by no later than BC.
Potatoes and manioc were domesticated in South America. In what is now the eastern United States, Native Americans domesticated sunflower, sumpweed and goosefoot around BC. In this area of the world people relied on hunting and gathering for several millennia to come. Sedentary village life based on farming did not develop until the second millennium BC, referred to as the formative period. When hunter-gathering began to be replaced by sedentary food production it became more profitable to keep animals close at hand.
Therefore, it became necessary to bring animals permanently to their settlements, although in many cases there was a distinction between relatively sedentary farmers and nomadic herders. Animals that provided milk, such as cows and goats, offered a source of protein that was renewable and therefore quite valuable. Besides being a direct source of food, certain animals could provide leather, wool, hides, and fertilizer. Some of the earliest domesticated animals included dogs East Asia, about 15, years ago ,  sheep, goats, cows, and pigs.
Dromedary camel caravan in Algeria. Domesticated cow being milked in Ancient Egypt. Llama overlooking the ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
Neandertals, Stone Age people may have voyaged the Mediterranean
Science : — Retrieved June 10, Worlds together, worlds apart concise edition vol. New York: W. International Commission on Stratigraphy. Retrieved Oxford University Press. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 54 10 : — Retrieved 9 December Thissen eds. Internal developments and external relations during the 9th—6th millennia cal BC , Proc. Asian Perspectives 42 1 : 72— Man Makes Himself.
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Oxford university press. London: Thames and Hudson. Page Redman San Francisco: Freeman. In Anne Birgitte Gebauer and T. Douglas Price.