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An Overview Of The Oasis Theory History Essay

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Now a days we take the domestication of plants and animals for granted, but the vegetables, fruits, milk products, grain, and meats we eat everyday come from long ago human intervention in the life cycles of wild animals and plants (Selig, Ruth vol. 15, No.2, 1993). Agriculture began 10,000 years ago, the shift took place over many centuries and in several locations around the world. In addition plant domestication occurred in at least 10 to 11 regions around the world. The beginning of agriculture thus marks a clear watershed and defines one of the major ecological changes in the history of the planet (Selig, Ruth vol. 15, No.2, 1993). But What is the most convincing theory for the origins of agriculture?

The Oasis Theory

In 1936, Australian archaeologist V. Gordon Childe proposed one of the first coherent theories to explain the origins of agriculture. Childe referred to the "The adoption of agriculture as the neolithic revolution, one of those key changes in prehistory that could be likened in their impact to the industrial revolution of 18th-century. While it is true that both agriculture and urbanism brought profound social and economic change, the term "revolution" implies a sudden and dramatic transition that does not accurately characterize the varied nature of these changes in different parts of the world(Scarre, Chris, ed. 2005)."

Also demographic theories from the 1960s assert that "agricultural origins looked for factors that would forced hunter-gatherers to abandon their existing lifestyle and adopt the more labor-intensive agriculture(Scarre, chris, ed. 2005)."

In addition to that as the result of long term relationship between humans and their food sources "agriculture should be viewed as one type of evolutionary adaptation between humans and other species(Scarre, chris, ed. 2005)."

Origins of Agriculture

The first mark of agriculture development took place in the area known as the Fertile Crescent( present day Syria, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon). Furthermore "Agriculture refers to a series of discoveries involving the domestication, culture, and management of plants and animals. It is one of the most far reaching discoveries of early humans leading to profound social changes( Diamond, J. 2002)". Agriculture was also developed on some others different areas like China, and Mesoamerica but on a later particular time. Finally " Agriculture must be thought of as a series of discoveries involving the domestication of plants and animals and their management". (Fig 3-3)( Diamond, J. 2002)

The Neolithic Age

Technologies of ceramics and spinning the wheel is not only the basis for the mechanical and transportation revolution but is also connected with the, "The neolithic or new stone age (7 to 10,000 years ago) pertains to a stage of culture following the paleolithic and is characterized by the use of polished stone implements, development of permanent dwellings, cultural advances such as pottery making, domestication of animals and plants, the cultivation of grain and fruits trees, and weaving (Fig.3-2) ". (Diamond, J. 2002 )

(3-2) Terra cotta, was used as weights in the process of spinning threads 5000 BCE.

At Last "The change from hunting/gathering to primitive farming appears so abrupt that this technological change is often characterized as the Neolithic Revolution". (Diamond, J. 2002 ).

The Origins of Agriculture: Rise of Civilization or Defying Evolution

Another idea implies that the long dry seasons occurring after the pleistocene caused adaptations on vegetations "Changing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, affecting plant photosynthesis, also may have created an environment supportive of agriculture. During the Pleistocene, CO2 levels were below 200 parts per million, increasing to above 250 ppm as the earth pulled out of the glacial age. This may have increased plant productivity by up to fifty percent, enabling crop domestication to develop" (Mawr Bryn, 2000: ). The following quotes is one of the various evidence that suggest that humans were far better as foragers than after they took up agriculture. "Hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet of thousands of types of plants, seeds, fruits, and nuts, while agriculturists relied on just one or two starchy crops, choosing "cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition." Today wheat, corn, and rice provide most of the calories for humans, yet each one is deficient in certain essential proteins and amino acids. Agriculturists also ran a much greater risk of starvation by depending on a few key crops, as opposed to foragers whose consumption does not rely on any one plant but is diverse and flexible. Agriculture, able to support higher population densities, caused people to live in closer quarters. This invited the spread of parasites and infectious diseases that foragers avoided by living in smaller numbers in larger areas. Studies of various skeletal evidence indicate an increase in infectious diseases, malnutrition, and anemia in early agricultural societies as compared to hunter-gatherers"(Mawr Bryn, 2000: )

Origins of Agriculture: New Ideas, New Data

There are at least ten different places around the world where agriculture was independently developed, and the antiquity of domestication is being pushed back in time with new discoveries. Therefore"There was a major emphasis on the origins of agriculture in East Asia. Lesser-known regions such as Papua New Guinea, Africa, and eastern North America were included in our discussions. Lots of new data were presented from East and West Asia, Africa, and Central and South America (fig. 3-3)"( Price T. Douglas, 2011: ) Information on estimated dates bp cal for domestication in these areas are provided in (table 1).

(3-3)Major centers of domestication and dates for earliest plants and animals picture Marcia Bakry.

Today an eerie synchronicity in the timing of the first domesticated around the end of the pleistocene is emerging."Another commonality among the cradles of agriculture is the rich environments in which farming originates. Experiments in domestication do not take place in marginal areas but amid concentrations of population and resources across the globe. It also appears that in each area where several different species are involved in the transition to agriculture, there are multiple centers of domestication within the region. A number of groups appear to be manipulating their natural world" ( Price T. Douglas, 2011: ). On the other hand

"During the first half of the twentieth century, the best information on early farming villages came from riverine areas or oases in Northeast Africa and Southwest Asia-along the Nile River in Egypt and at Jericho in the Jordan Valley, for example. Early views on the origins of agriculture focused on climate change." (Price T. Douglas, 2011: ).

"A number of important general factors in the origins of agriculture were recognized at the symposium. These factors can be categorized as exogenous, or natural (e.g., climate/environment, population growth), and endogenous, or cultural (e.g., social change, religion). Theories on the transition to agriculture have most often focused on external factors such as climatic change or inherent growth in population as problems solved by the cultivation of plants and animals"( Price T. Douglas, 2011).

. The purpose of this Assignment was to advise the reader with the main theories and evidence on the Origins of Agriculture. Farming predominate the activities of a particular community and determine the main diet, although hunting and gathering may continue. Farming is a way of obtaining food that involves the cultivation of plants and the controlled of animals. Today two thirds of humans necessary calorie and protein intake comes from key cereal grains domesticated in the earlier holocene.


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