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As we have observed, there is still some question, however, as to the ultimate backgrounds of the neolithic. One has certainly to concede that the basic arts of higher civilization were derived, as far as the Afro-Eurasian hemisphere is concerned, from the now well established Near Eastern matrix. Nevertheless, with respect to the arts of planting and stock-breeding, the earliest neolithic villages of the Near East may represent simply one province of a considerably larger zone. The earliest horizon for the domestication of the pig in what may be termed, roughly, the Malayo-Polynesian sphere has not yet been established; nor do we know how far back the primitive cultivation of the coconut, banana, and tuberous food plants should be placed. Therefore, though it may, on one hand, ultimately be found that most of the myths and rituals of the Malayo-Polynesian area should be interpreted as provincial to the Near Eastern proto- or basal neolithic, it may, on the other hand, ultimately appear that the reading should be run the other way. But in either case (and this point, I believe, no one acquainted with the facts now assembled would deny) the two developments were not separate; so that the progress of human culture in the Old World from the level of food-collection (hunting and root-gathering) to that of food-cultivation (planting and stock-breeding) has now to be studied as one very broadly spread, yet single process.  (128)

...the bottle-gourd is not the only plant that came to America across the Pacific. The Asiatic cotton that entered the New World at the same time and is present in the earliest agricultural, pre­ceramic horizons of both Peru and Chile not only made itself at home here but also mixed with a wild American variety - whereupon the mixed breed was carried back into and through Polynesia, as far as to Fiji. Add the fact that the cocopalm was cultivated in pre-Columbian tropical America "in great groves" and is not a plant that can establish itself by being washed up onto a beach; the further fact that the cultivated amaranth (which is known ­ perhaps significantly - as pigweed) was used as both a cereal and a potherb in pre-Columbian America, as also in India and other Asiatic monsoon lands; again, the fact that the plantain, which was a common staple of Indian diet and widely distributed in the tropics of the New World, from southern Brazil to Jalisco, Mexico, appears to have been introduced from overseas before the coming of Columbus; still again, the fact that the origin of maize itself is still obscure and may indeed have involved a Southeast Asian contribution; and finally, the fact that a number of plants known to have been first cultivated in America have been found well established in the Southwest Pacific (namely the peanut, jackbean, lima bean, jicama, and sweet potato, the last even having the same name - e-kumar/kumara-c-in Peru and in Polynesia) - and the case is made for at least a modicum of American participation in the cultural movements of the Malayo-Polynesian sphere. (128)

We are entering here one of the truly great riddles of prehistory: not just why' did humans begin to domesticate plants and animals at a particular moment in the Indian subcontinent, but why did they do so in the first place anywhere in the world - and when and where (if anywhere) did this process really begin? (124)

The cultivation of plants has never been an instinctive part of the human repertoire; in fact, it is a comparatively recent human activity, practiced for far less than 1% of the time our genus has been on this planet. And it involved a radical alteration in the way people lived. The several million years separating the first tool-using hominids of Africa and the French cave artists of just 20,000 years ago encompassed a period of momentous change. Human brian size trebled, crude stone implements were replaced by an impressive array of specialized tools, and our ancestors were able to colonize most of the world. But in one important respect all Pleistocene societies, from the barely human hominids of two million years ago to the creative hunter-foragers of just 10,000 years ago, were alike: they made their living by gathering and hunting their food, not by producing it, in the sense that they did not "farm." (27)

We can look back, perhaps with a bit of pride, at the adaptability and durability of our ancient hunting-gathering forebears. They lived as hunter-gatherers for millions of years, in every kind of environment, from polar ice cap to the jungles of the Amazon. To do this required, in many cases, profound knowledge of environments, a sophisticated yet still portable technology, and a demanding life on the move. (27)

Agricultural diets generally increase periodontal and dental diseases and relax selection for robust detition, so that the spread of agriculture across the world has resulted in a gradual reduction in human teeth size and strength--and in dental health. Agriculture allows more people to be fed, but compared to huter-foraging in general, agriculture is assoicated with shorter life expectances, higher disease rates (especially among infants), smaller body size, and chronic malnutrician. (27)

Whatever the importance of human intentionality in producing agricultural economies, it is important to recognize that human food and taste "preferences" seem to have played little role in agricultural origins. (27)

Although there is great variability, hunters and gatherers tend to have more leasure time than primitive agriculturalists--farming is hard work, as even a suburban gardener knows full well. Moreover, hunters-foragers do not seem to spend their time in continual efforts to improve their lot--or designing canthedrals or composing string quartets. Studies of these groups around the world show that they spend most or all of their spare time talking or sleeping. Even so, the idea that people became farmers because it was an easier way of life than hunting-foraging seems so plausible--particularly to most Westerners--that it is hard to dicredit this myth. (27)

The !Kung of the Kalahari still maintain a hunter-gatherer way of life and studies have found that they are not and never have been nutritionally deprived, they spend less rather than more time procuring food, and they have known about plants and have consciously chosen not to grow them. (69)

Evidence that some of the earliest agricultural communities had appeared, not in the natural habitat, but on the margins or outside of it raised the possibility that agriculture was not just a natural result of people exploiting wild stands of wheat and barley. A family of four or five could probably have collected a year's supply of grain with only a few weeks' labor, and this would seem to suggest that the people who lived in the natural habitat of wheat and barely had perhaps the least incentive to domesticaste and farm it, because they could collect more than enough from wild stands. (27)

But there is no evidence, in fact, showing that our ancestors ever depended on wild grains. Their staple diet consisted of lean-muscle meats, limited fatty organ meats, and wild fruits and vegetables, "but, significantly, not grains, legumes, dairy products, or the very high-fat carcasses of modern domesticated animals." We know that no primate species consumes grass seeds as part of its regular die and that Paleolithic humans did not before 8000 BC. In fact, we are not and have never been adapted to digesting such grains until they are processed; we lack the enzymes required to derive energy from the type of natural fibers that predominate in wild cereals unless they are milled and cooked. (69)

Nursing a child requires about 1,000 calories a day, and in many hunter-gatherer societies, the rigors of mobility and their high-protein diet can mean that nursing itself prevents sufficient fat build-up for a subsequent pregnancy for about three years. But with the change to a high-carbohydrate, cereal-based diet and restricted mobility of sedentary life, fertility rates may well have risen rapidly. (27)

Storing hunter-gatherer societies exhibit three characteristics--sedentism, a high population density, and the development of socioeconomic inequalities--which have been considered typical of agricultural societies and possible only with an agricultural way of life. Furthermore, their economic cycle--massive harvest and intensive storage of a seasonal resource--is the same as that of societies based on the cultivation of cereals. The difference between storing hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists lies in whether the staple food species are wild or domesticated; this proves to be only a minor difference, since it does not affect the main aspects of society. Agriculturalists and storing hunter-gatherers together are neatly in opposition to non-storing hunter-gatherers. The conclusion to be drawn is that it is certainly not the presence of agriculture or its absense which is the relevant factor when dealing with such societies, but rather the presence or absense of an economy with intensive storage as its conerstone. (28)

Occasionally there are claims that maize was either brought to or from the Old World at a very early date, usually based on ancient sculptures and other art, but no trace of ancient corn plants has ever been found in the Old World. (27)

It does not seem likely that the timing of wheat and barley domestication, for example, was the result mainly of "lucky" mutations. All over the post-Pleistocene world so many diverse animal and plant species were domesticated that explaining them all in terms of "lucky" mutations would require coincidences of a highly unlikely nature. Nor was this a technologicdal revolution: the first intensive cereal collectors required only minimal tools--implements certainly no more complex or imaginative than the fish traps and bows and arrows of the late Pleistocene. (28)

The earliest states and empires arose for the most part in arid or semi-arid environments where crops like wheat and barley could be grown without having to turn over thick grasslands or fight back lots of competing vegetation, and where agricultural production could be easily intensified, either by canals, terracing, building up fields in lake beds, or some other method. Even though intensive agriculture is the foundation of almost all early complex cultures, it is not a suffient explanation in and of itself. Therefore most attempts to understand the origins of complexity try to link specific agricultural patterns with other factors. (45)

...the only reason sufficient to account for the enormous efforts required to maintain agricultural systems would be an imbalance between the population and available food supply. It would be advantageous to have a hierarchical administrative organization, so that work and production could be closely and efficiently administered. (45)

....many analysts of cultural evolution have assumed that a pervasive and powerful factor in human history has been the strong tendency of human populations to increase up to the point where serious shortages of important resources are in the offing; and that experience or anticipation of such shortages has been a major factor, or even the dominanat factor, in stimulating intensification of agricultural production and other technical and social innovations. In extreme versions, the entire history of complex societies and civilizations is seen as hardly more than the outcome of measures that began as ways of coping with problems posed by relentless human fertility--what might be called the "strictly from hunger" point of view of developmental processes. (45)

...for chiefdoms to appear and then to become states and empires, the appropriate "energy gates" had to be available: yams and tubers are poor energy gates because they do not store well and have no clearly defined harvest period, so a big man or chief cannot easily shut off the flow of proteins and calories produced by the farmers; but grains store well and have defined periods of harvest, so a chief with command of community grain stores absolutely controls the lives of his associates. ...the paleotechnic infrastructures most amenable to intensification, redistribution, and expansion of managerial functions were those based on the grain and ruminant (e.g., cattle) complexes of the Near and Middle East, southern Europe, northern China, and northern India. (45)

Early farmers around the world converged in finding, through domestication and agriculture, four key ingredients to the village-farming way of life: they all found (1)a source for textiles, (2)a productive, high carbohydrate, main crop plant, (3)an edible oil for cooking, and (4)a reliable source of animal protein. (49)

What is immediately apparent from any survey of the origin of principal crops is that that they are associated with four of the primary ancient civilizations: Mexico ; Peru ; and the Fertile Crescent, where corn, potatoes, and wheat originated; and China , where perhaps rice originated. Many secondary crops, such as barley, soybeans, lentils, peas, beans, peppers, squash, cocoa, cotton, and alfalfa (used as animal forage), also came from these four centers of civilization. (69)

If we look at a map of the world and think back to the Ice Age, it is possible to guess at why these specific cultures might have been chosen. There were abundant water and extremely fertile alluvial plains in Mesopotamia , Egypt , China , and the Indus Valley . The gulf coast of Mexico was fertile and wet. The climate in these places had warmed--and all that was needed was technical know-how in order for them to blossom. (69)

From a mathematical perspective, humankind has actually spent about 99.99 percent of its time in the primitive, pre-agricultural state. Indeed, a large portion of the world's population did not convert to agriculture or embrace civilization until the last millennium, and many primitive cultures did so only after contact with external civilizations. Agriculture and civilization are experiments still being tested in the crucible of long-term survivability. (69)

A jump from a hunter-gatherer culture to the agricultural life of the Sumerians in the space of several thousand years without any small-scale precedent and without any evidence that the resulting crops would sustain humans seems something of a miraculous leap. (69)

These four crops feed more people in the world than all other crops combined and account for 70 percent of the total cropland in production. The fact that we cannot find the precursors of wheat, corn, or rice seems to suggest that our ancestors had an amazing gift for complex plant breeding with species that they had previously ignored. Interestingly, the astounding success of these three crops, along with the potato, can be recognized in the fact that, though the agricultural revolution has been under way for 10,000 years, humans have not bred any new major food crops. We have to wonder at such innovation in such a short span of time by people who were just emerging from primitive hunter-gatherer cultures. (69)

That transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture is generally considered a decisive step in our progress, when we at last acquired the stable food supply and leisure time prerequisite to the great accomplishments of modern civilization. In fact, careful examination of that transition suggests another conclusion: for most people the transition brought infectious diseases, malnutrition, and a shorter life span. For human society in general it worsened the relative lot of women and introduced class-based inequality. More than any other milestone along the path from chimpanzeehood to humanity, agriculture inextricably combines causes of our rise and our fall. (114)

There are at least three sets of reasons to explain these findings that agriculture was bad for health. First, hunter-gatherers enjoyed a varied diet with adequate amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals, while farmers obtained most of their food from starchy crops. In effect, the farmers gained cheap calories at the cost of poor nutrition. Today just three high-carbohydrate plants--wheat, rice, and corn provide more than 50 percent of the calories consumed by the human species. Second, because of that dependence on one or a few crops, farmers ran a greater risk of starvation if one food crop failed than did hunters. The Irish potato famine is merely one of many examples. Finally, most of today's leading infectious diseases and parasites of mankind could not become established until after the transition to agriculture. These killers persist only in societies of crowded, malnourished, sedentary people constantly reinfected by each other and by their own sewage. The cholera bacterium, for example, does not survive for long outside the human body. It spreads from one victim to the next through contamination of drinking water with feces of cholera patients. Measles dies out in small populations once it has either killed or immunized most potential hosts; only in populations numbering at least a few hundred thousand people can it maintain itself indefinitely. Such crowd epidemics could not persist in small, scattered bands of hunters who often shifted camp. Tuberculosis, leprosy, and cholera had to await the rise of farming, while smallpox, bubonic plague, and measles appeared only in the past few thousand years with the rise of even denser populations in cities. (114)

The answer boils down to the adage "Might makes right." Farming could support far more people than hunting, whether or not it also brought on the average more food per mouth. (Population densities of hunter-gatherers are typically one person or less per square mile, while densities of farmers average at least ten times higher.) Partly, this is because an acre of field planted entirely in edible crops produces far more tons of food, hence lets one feed far more mouths, than an acre of forest with scattered edible wild plants. Partly, too, it's because nomadic hunter-gatherers have to keep their children spaced at four-year intervals by infanticide and other means, since a mother must carry her toddler until it's old enough to keep up with the adults. Because sedentary farmers don't have that problem, a woman can and does bear a child every two years. Perhaps the main reason we find it so hard to shake off the traditional view that farming was unequivocally good for us is that there's no doubt that it meant more tons of food per acre. We forget that it also resulted in more mouths to feed and that health and quality of life depend on the amount of food per mouth. (114)

As population densities of hunter-gatherers slowly rose at the end of the Ice Age, bands had to "choose," whether consciously or unconsciously, between feeding more mouths by taking the first steps toward agriculture, or else finding ways to limit growth. Some bands adopted the former solution, unable to anticipate the evils of farming, and seduced by the transient abundance they enjoyed until population growth caught up with increased food production. Such bands outbred and then drove off or killed the bands that chose to remain hunter-gatherers, because ten malnourished farmers can still outfight one healthy hunter. It's not that hunter-gatherers abandoned their lifestyle, but that those sensible enough not to abandon it were forced out of all areas except ones that farmers didn't want. Modern hunter-gatherers persist mainly in scattered areas useless for agriculture, such as the Arctic and deserts. (114)

Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed for us a stage at which we made one of the most crucial decisions in human history. Forced to choose between limiting population growth and trying to increase food production, we opted for the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny. The same choice faces us today, with the difference that we now can learn from the past. (114)

Domestication requires not just capturing individual wild animals and taming them, but getting them to breed in captivity and modifying them through selective breeding so as to be more useful to us. Since the domestication of horses around 4000 BC and reindeer a few thousand years later, no large European mammal has been added to our repertoire of successful domesticates. Thus, our few modern species of domestic mammals were quickly winnowed from hundreds of others that had been tried and abandoned. (114)

Why have efforts at domesticating most animal species failed? It turns out that a wild animal must possess a whole suite of unusual characteristics for domestication to succeed. First, in most cases it must be a social species living in herds. A herd's subordinate individuals have instinctive submissive behaviors that they display toward dominant individuals, and that they can transfer toward humans. Asian mouflon sheep (the ancestors of domestic sheep) have such behaviors but North American bighorn sheep do not--a crucial difference that prevented Indians from domesticating the latter. Except for cats and ferrets, solitary territorial species have not been domesticated. (114)

Second, species such as gazelles and many deer and antelopes, which instantly take flight at signs of danger instead of standing their ground, prove too nervous to manage. Our failure to domesticate deer is especially striking, since there are few other wild animals with which humans have been so closely associated for tens of thousands of years. Although deer have always been intensively hunted and often tamed, reindeer alone among the world's forty-one deer species were successfully domesticated. Territorial behavior, flight reflexes, or both, eliminated the other forty species as candidates. Only reindeer had the necessary tolerance of intruders and gregarious, non-territorial behavior. (114)

Finally, as zoos often discover to their dismay, captive animals that are docile and healthy may nevertheless refuse to breed in cages. You yourself wouldn't want to carry out a lengthy courtship and copulate under the watchful eyes of others; many animals don't want to either. This problem of getting captive animals to breed has derailed persistent attempts to domesticate some potentially very valuable animals. For example, the finest wool in the world comes from the vicuna, a small camel species native to the Andes. But neither the Incas nor modern ranchers have ever been able to domesticate it, and wool must still be obtained by capturing wild vicunas. (114)

As true of animals, only a tiny fraction of all wild plant species have proved suitable for domestication. For example, plant species in which a single hermaphroditic individual can pollinate itself (like wheat) were domesticated earlier and more easily than cross-pollinated species (like rye). The reason is that self-pollinating varieties are easier to select and then maintain as true strains, since they're not continually mixing with their wild relatives. As another example, although acorns of many oak species were a major food source in prehistoric Europe and North America, no oak has ever been domesticated, perhaps because squirrels remained much better than humans at selecting and planting acorns. For every domesticated plant that we still use today, many others were tried in the past and discarded. (114)

Domestication of wheat and barley wasn't a conscious act. It wasn't the case that several hunter-gatherers sat down one day, mourned the extinction of big game animals, discussed which particular wheat plants were best, planted the seeds of those plants, and thereby became farmers the next year. Instead, the process we call plant domestication--the changes in wild plants under cultivation--was an unintended by-product of people's preferring some wild plants over others, and hence accidentally spreading seeds of the preferred plants. In the case of wild cereals, people naturally preferred to harvest those with big seeds, those whose seeds were easy to remove from the seed coverings, and those with firm non-shattering stalks that held all the seeds together. It took only a few mutations, favored by this unconscious human selection, to produce the large-seeded, non-shattering cereal varieties that we refer to as domesticated rather than wild. (114)

The predominantly north-south axis of the New World made such diffusion of food plants difficult; the predominantly east-west axis of the Old World made it easy. Plants and animals spread quickly and easily within a climate zone to which they're already adapted. To spread out of this zone, they have to develop new varieties with different climate tolerances. …species could shift long distances without encountering a change of climate. Many of these shifts proved enormously important in launching farming or herding in new areas, or enriching it in old areas. (114)

The ancient Romans were already growing wheat and barley from the Near East, peaches and citrus fruits from China, cucumbers and sesame from India, and hemp and onions from central Asia, along with oats and poppies originating locally in Europe. Horses that spread from the Near East to West Africa revolutionized military tactics there, while sheep and cattle spread down from the highlands of East Africa to launch herding in southern Africa among the Hottentots, who lacked locally domesticated animals of their own. African sorghum and cotton reached India by around 2000 BC, while bananas and yams from tropical Southeast Asia crossed the Indian Ocean to enrich agriculture in tropical Africa. (114)

An epoch of spectacular geological turmoil occurred at the end of the last Ice Age, with the most dramatic effects registered in a series of cataclysmic floods that took place at intervals between roughly 15,000 and 7000 years ago. Is it an accident that this same 8000-year period has been pinpointed by archaeologists as the very one in which our supposedly primitive forefathers made the transition (in different places at somewhat different times) from their age-old hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agriculture? Or could there be more to 'the food-producing revolution' than meets the eye? After all, most scientists already recognize a causative connection between the end of the Ice Age and the supposed beginning of farming - indeed an unproven hypothesis that rapid climate changes forced hunter-gatherers to invent agriculture presently serves as pretty much the sum of conventional wisdom on this subject. But there is another possibility. Nobody seems to have noticed that in the general vicinity of each of the places in the world where the food-producing revolution is supposed to have begun between 15,000 and 7000 years ago there is also a large area of land that was submerged by the post-glacial floods between 15,000 and 7000 years ago:
• We have seen that this is true for India, one of the world's ancient agricultural 'hearths’, which lost more than a million square kilometres in the south and the west and, most conspicuously in the north-west, at the end of the Ice Age.
• It is true for China and for south-east Asia, both important centres of palaeo-agriculture. Immediately adjacent to them, but now under as much as 100 metres of water, lies the Ice Age continent of Sundaland. Prior to its final inundation of about 8000 years ago, this consisted of more than 3 million square kilometres of prime antediluvian real estate extending from the Malaysian peninsula through what are now the Indonesian islands and the Philippines. Taiwan was incorporated with the Chinese mainland and northwards from there the coast expanded almost 1000 kilometres to the east to fill what is now the Yellow Sea and incorporate the Korean peninsula fully with the mainland.
• It is true for the so-called Fertile Crescent - the prime agricultural 'hearth' of the Middle East, centred around lands watered by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, that forms a rough semi-circle through parts of modem Israel, the Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran and ends up near the Persian Gulf. For not only was the Gulf previously dry - and flooded at the end of the Ice Age, but a glance at the wider map also shows several other inundated areas near by in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and the eastern Mediterranean.
• And it is true for Central America, where agriculture is thought to have sprung up spontaneously, independent of developments in the Old World. Off the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan, Nicaragua, Florida and Grand Bahama Banks were imposing landmasses during the Ice Age that were swallowed by the post-glacial floods around 7000 years ago. Evidence from Mexico and Panama, published in July 2001, indicates that 'agriculture in the Americas began around 7000 years ago'. It is notable that: 'On the Gulf coast pollen evidence suggests that forest was being cleared around 51OO BC and domesticated maize plants were being grown only a century later...The San Andres site near the famous Olmec centre of La Venta showed that maize had been introduced and grown in a region of beaches and lagoons.' (124)

Sinanthropus, who had already captured fire as early as c. 400,000 BC, was a cannibal; so also Neanderthal Man; we have mentioned the evidence of the opened skulls at Krapina and Ehringsdorf. But in Java too a number of such opened skulls have been found among the remains of Solo (Ngandong) Man, Neanderthal's Oriental contemporary; and these were opened precisely in the way of the skulls of the present-day headhunters of Borneo. But now, with respect to the earliest employment of fire, a curious problem arises when it is realized that although the heavy­browed family of Sinanthropus crouched around its hearth as early as c. 400,000 BC and that of Neanderthal Man c. 200,000, those lusty brutes gobbled their meals of fresh meat and brains ­ whether human or animal - absolutely raw. For it was not until the period of the far more highly developed races of the temple caves, c. 30,000-10,000 BC, that the art of roasting was invented. (128)

...the Vikings became high as kites by eating the hallucinogenic mushroom, the fly agaric. He pointed out that this practice was known to America as well as to Siberia and early Europe. He calls these unrelated cultures. (135)

In the Stone Age, men were the hunters, women the collectors of plant foods. Women domesticated plants c. 10,000 BC before men domesticated animals, c. 7000 BC. The cultivation of fruit trees, vegetables and grains revolutionised life, gave greater social security and the conditions for a much increased population. Women thus were the main economic force in society and so they came to be the main political and religious force. God was a woman, the earth-mother, served by priestesses and property was passed down in a family through the female side. Women bore arms and became Amazons. (135)

The clear message from all the evidence available on climate change and variability over the last 100 kyr is that the survival of the human race was a precarious business. The ability to interpret the seasonal changes that drove migratory patterns and to plan how to intercept prey was an essential part of survival, especially if combined with a migratory lifestyle of one's own. Until the start of the Holocene around 10 kya, conditions were immeasurably more challenging for humankind. (145)

There is one other interesting physiological consequence of the shift in diet associated with adoption of agriculture. This development has the rather ugly description of 'cranial gracilization' to describe the fact that we have become prettier. Our jaws have got smaller and our mouths have become more crowded as a result of chewing less hard food and preparing soft foods that have been cooked for lengthy periods. These changes have not led to serious health effects, but the reduced space for our teeth has increased the incidence of dental problems. At the same time our brain size has reduced by about 10 percent. (145)

Only non-perishable food is traded because it stands the trip to the settlement best and it can be stored by the settlement. The major types or non-perishable food will be live animals and hard seeds. With a successful settlement, large quantities of live animals and seeds accumulate in what has now become a small city. The settlement will quickly develop specialize individuals, whose job is to look after the stores of food. Those who look after wild animals will slaughter the most dangerous animals first, and the more docile species that can eat grass will be stored until they are needed for food, and will probably end up breeding. In this way, sheep, goats and cattle become domesticated over many generations. (160)

Africa

...sheep and cattle spread down from the highlands of East Africa to launch herding in southern Africa among the Hottentots, who lacked locally domesticated animals of their own. African sorghum and cotton reached India by around 2000 BC... (114)

Southwest Asia

The lower elevations of the great arc of mountains of the Fertile Crescent were the natural habitats of wild wheat, barley, sheep, and goats. In ancient times this area was covered with vast grasslands and oak and pistachio forests, and, even as late as the nineteenth century, sheep grazing these verdant uplands were brought to lowland markets with their wool stained scarlet by wildflowers in their range. Below the high ridges of the Zagros and Taurus mountains, the foothills and rolling plains of the piedmont saw some of the world's earliest agricultural villages. (46)

Ancient Neolithic farms are found here almost every place rainfall is sufficient to grow wheat and barley with reasonable reliability. With irrigation, the high productivity of this area made these northern plains the "breadbasket" of some of the greatest empires of antiquity. But most early civilizations are the "gift" of some great river system, and this is particularly true of Mesopotamian cultures (in fact, "Mesopotamia means "between the rivers" in Greek. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers created the alluvial plain with annual deposits of flood-borne fertile silt and clay, and they provide the irrigation water that makes agriculture possible here. The swamps and wetlands formed by the rivers support a variety of usable wild plants, such as flax for textiles and rushes for basketry, but in addition to these plants and water for irrigation, the major gift of the rivers is fish. The scrub forests along the rivers cannot support many game animals, and thus fish--and later, domestic cattle--furnished the protein indispensable to survival on the alluvial plain. (46)

“…Bread wheat is the most widely grown wheat species and one of the few crops for which no wild forms have been identified." (69)

Scientists believe that the Sumerians, the first bread bakers, bred different varieties of wheat and wild grasses by accidental selection while harvesting, they naturally selected the mutations--however few there were--that exhibited naked seeds firmly attached to the stem (the opposite of wild wheat). Once again we are confronted with the notion that every step leading to civilization was a "miraculous" accident. Thousands of generations of accidental genetic selection are required by nature in order for certain mutations to appear more frequently. Yet the period, time, or location in which such a gradual and very prolonged process might have taken place on Earth is nowhere to be found and there is no explanation for this botanogenetic miracle. It is as if it was a process not of accidental natural selection, but rather of artificial manipulation. (69)

The Old World grains were already productive in the wild: one can still harvest up to seven hundred pounds of grain per acre from wild wheat growing naturally on hillsides in the Near East. In a few weeks a family could harvest enough to feed itself for a year. Hence even before wheat and barley were domesticated, there were sedentary villages in Palestine that had already invented sickles, mortars and pestles, and storage pits, and that were supporting themselves on wild grains. (114)

Archaeological findings reveal that the wild ancestors of all of the earliest, primary Neolithic crops grew together only in this Fertile Crescent region. Apart from the two types of wheat and barley, other plants that could be domesticated included lentils, peas and chickpeas. The wild chickpea provides a convincing key to the researchers' conclusions, as it is an extremely rare species occurring only in southeastern Turkey and northern Syri: had agriculture originated elsewhere, chickpeas would not have been domesticated as one of the first, or founder, crops. (145)

The key to the success of southern Mesopotamia was the harnessing of its massive agricultural potential through irrigation. The rich alluvial soil of the region was able to produce huge yields provided it was adequately watered. (145)

Mesopotamia--the Land Between the Rivers--was a veritable food basket in ancient times. The apricot tree, the Spanish word for which is damasco ("Damascus tree"), bears the Latin name anneniaca, a loanword from the Akkadian annanu. The cherry--kerasos in Greek, Kirsche in German--originates from the Akkadian karshu. All the evidence suggests that these and other fruits and vegetables reached Europe from Mesopotamia. So did many special seeds and spices: Our word saffron comes from the Akkadian azupiranu, crocus from kurkanu (via krokos in Greek), cumin from kamanu, hyssop from zupu, myrrh from murru. The list is long; in many instances, Greece provided the physical and etymological bridge by which these products of the land reached Europe. Onions, lentils, beans, cucumbers, cabbage, and lettuce were common ingredients of the Sumerian diet. (146)

Texts and pictures confirm the Sumerian knowledge of converting the cereals they had grown into flour, from which they made a variety of leavened and unleavened breads, porridges, pastries, cakes, and biscuits. Barley was also fermented to produce beer; "technical manuals" for beer production have been found among the texts. Wine was obtained from grapes and from date palms. Milk was available from sheep, goats, and cows; it was used as a beverage, for cooking, and for converting into yogurt, butter, cream, and cheeses. Fish was a common part of the diet. Mutton was readily available, and the meat of pigs, which the Sumerians tended in large herds, was considered a true delicacy. Geese and ducks may have been reserved for the gods' tables. (146)

One text prescribed the offering to the gods of "loaves of barley bread...loaves of emmer bread; a paste of honey and cream; dates, pastry...beer, wine, milk...cedar sap, cream." Roasted meat was offered with libations of "prime beer, wine, and milk." A specific cut of a bull was prepared according to a strict recipe, calling for "fine flour...made to a dough in water, prime beer, and wine," and mixed with animal fats, "aromatic ingredients made from hearts of plants," nuts, malt, and spices. Instructions for "the daily sacrifice to the gods of the city of Uruk" called for the serving of five different beverages with the meals, and specified what "the millers in the kitchen" and "the chef working at the kneading trough" should do. (146)

Tracing the beginnings of agriculture, modern scholars have found that it appeared first in the Near East, but not in the fertile and easily cultivated plains and valleys. Rather, agriculture began in the mountains skirting the low-lying plains in a semicircle. (146)

Egypt

In very ancient times, too, cities were engaged in developing, agriculture and animal husbandry. In the Egyptian cities of the Old Kingdom, for example, many experiments with animal domestication were tried: records of the efforts have been left in pictures .... during Old Kingdom times hyenas were tied up and force-fed until fat enough for slaughter; pelicans were kept to lay eggs; mongooses tamed to kill rats and mice and there is a suggestion that Dorcas gazelles were herded in flocks. Pictures show ibex, and two of the large kinds of antelope, addax and oryx stabled and wearing collars. The ass and the common house cat were domesticated in the ancient cities of the Nile; they are city animals distributed into the rural world. (160)

Indus Valley

 Records

China

 Wheat and barley supplied much of the energy that ran Mesopotamian and Egyptian societies, but in China rice and millet were in many instances as important as wheat or barley. North China 's developmental leadership was closely tied to its agricultural potential. Pleistocene winds blowing off the Gobi Desert covered parts of North China with a layer of loess (a fine grain sediment) that reached a depth of several hundred meters. The Huanghe (or " Yellow River "-from the color given it by the loess it carries) cuts through these loess plains, frequently changing its course, and through flooding and draining it has created a rich agricultural zone of lakes, marshes, and alluvial fields. Loess is the agricultural soil par excellence: it is organically rich, requires little plowing, and retains near the surface much of the sparse rain that falls on North China . Moreover, it can yield large crops with little fertilization, even under intensive cultivation. The southern alluvial plains, with their hot, humid climate, eventually became the great rice heartlands. (49)

Early farmers around the world converged in finding, through domestication and agriculture, four key ingredients to the village-farming way of life: they all found (1)a source for textiles, (2)a productive, high carbohydrate, main crop plant, (3)an edible oil for cooking, and (4)a reliable source of animal protein. The initial northern Chinese solutions to these problems were hemp for textiles, millet for a main crop plant, rapeseed and soybeans for edible oils, and pigs for meat. Wheat, barley, and perhaps other plants may have been introduced from western Asia, but east Asian domesticates and/or early cultivars include apricot, peach, pear, persimmon, and plum trees; soybeans, mung beans, peas, and other legumes; buckwheat, various kinds of millet, barley, and rice; safflower, rape, and other producers of edible oils; chinese cabbage, radishes, and other vegetables; and a variety of special-purpose plants such as the lacquer tree (lacquer), hops (flavoring agent), hemp (fibers and drugs), and the bottle gourd (containers). (49)

Europe

…the only major cereal crop domesticated in Europe was probably oats, which did not become economically important until late in prehistory. (50)

The ancient Romans were already growing wheat and barley from the Near East, peaches and citrus fruits from China, cucumbers and sesame from India, and hemp and onions from central Asia, along with oats and poppies originating locally in Europe. (114)

Although there is no direct evidence of plant foods, analysis of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in bone collagen provides a direct measure of diet and has been applied to two Neanderthals found in a cave in Croatia. The isotope evidence overwhelmingly points to the Neanderthals having obtained almost all of their dietary protein from animal sources. In contrast, isotope values for remains of modern humans dating to the mid-Upper Paleolithic in Europe indicate significant amounts of aquatic foods (fish, molluscs and/or birds) in some of their diets. Most of this evidence points to greater exploitation of inland fresh­water resources. (145)

South America

In the New World, the most important domesticates were maize, beans, squash, peppers, potatoes, turkey, guinea pigs (as a food source), and llamas (although some poeple would add to this cacao, from which chacolate is derived). Like their Old World relatives, New World peoples complemented their staple domesticates with a wide range of other plants, including manioc, sunflowers, amaranth, gourds, and cotton, as well as "recreational" plants like coca (from which cocaine is derived) and tobacco. But, for reasons not clearly understood, New World peoples did not domesticate any large draught animals suitable for plowing or riding, and this fact alone may explain much of the difference between the later cultural histories of the Old and New Worlds: plowing, even the simple, single blade of a wood plow, opens up many areas to agriculture that connot be farmed otherwise.(27)

The efficiencies of the maize-beans-squash-potatoes group is such that it was the basis of life all over the New World when the Europeans colonists first arrived.(27)

Like corn, the potato originated in this part of the world, flourishing near Lake Titicaca, and was exported to the Old World after the Conquest. The potato plant, however, is a member of the nightshade family, which is generally poisonous--and at high altitudes its tuber also contains toxic alkaloids. It seems that pre-Incan people likely determined that potatoes would survive the high altitude only to discover that most of these tubers proved to be toxic. They solved this problem by freeze-drying the potato into a powder, a practice still followed today by local farmers, who claim that they can store their potatoes for up to 6 years in this form. But scientists have discovered that coincidentally the freeze-drying process removes the tuber's harmful alkaloids. (69)

As a result, domestic mammals made no contribution to the protein needs of native Australians and Americans except in the Andes, where their contribution was still much slighter than in the Old World. No native American or Australian mammal ever pulled a plough, cart, or war chariot, gave milk, or bore a rider. (114)

In the New World, however, the temperate zone of North America is isolated from the temperate zone of the Andes and southern South America by thousands of miles of tropics, in which temperate-zone species can't survive. As a result, the llama, alpaca, and guinea pig of the Andes never spread in prehistoric times to North America or even to Mexico, which consequently remained without any domestic mammals to carry packs or to produce wool or meat (except for corn-fed edible dogs). Potatoes as well failed to spread from the Andes to Mexico or North America, while sunflowers never spread from North America to the Andes. Many crops that were apparently shared prehistorically between North and South America actually occurred as different varieties or even species in the two continents, suggesting that they were domesticated independently in both areas. This seems true, for instance, of cotton, beans, lima beans, chili peppers, and tobacco. Corn did spread from Mexico to both North and South America, but it evidently wasn't easy, perhaps because of the time it took to develop varieties suited to other latitudes. Not until around 900 AD--thousands of years after corn had emerged in Mexico--did corn become a staple food in the Mississippi Valley, thereby triggering the belated rise of the mysterious mound-building civilization of the American Midwest. (114)

It was Paul Martin, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, who described the dramatic outcome of hunter-meets-elephant as a "blitzkrieg." According to his view, the first hunters to emerge from the ice-free corridor at Edmonton thrived and multiplied, because they found an abundance of tame, easy-to-hunt big mammals. As the mammals were killed off in one area, the hunters and their offspring kept fanning out into new areas that still had abundant mammals, and kept exterminating the mammal populations at the front of their advance. By the time the hunters' front finally reached the south tip of South America, most of the big mammal species of the New World had been exterminated. (114)

As You Fly east from La Paz in the Bolivian Andes, the dense green of the jungle suddenly gives way to open grasslands that extend as far as the eye can see. This is the swampy flood plain of the Mamore River, a tributary of the Amazon, which is underwater one half of the year and bone dry the other half. The few inhabitants simply have to move to higher land during the flood season. In 1962, an American student at the University of California, Berkeley, Bill Denevan, who realized that many areas of this immense land are virtually unknown, persuaded the pilot of a Bolivian airliner to divert north over the Moxos Plain, an area called Beni. Suddenly he was goggling with excitement, rushing from side to side of the plane with his camera. What he saw below him was a landscape in two shades of green, the lighter green lying on the surrounding darker green in short, broad strokes, as if an abstract painter had taken a whitewash brush and slapped a green-tinted wash over the flat landscape in V-shaped patterns. The lighter green, he realized later, was raised fields, in effect platforms of earth that had once been surrounded by flood-filled ditches. Looking ahead, a distance of perhaps 50 miles, he could see another light green patch of landscape about the size of a fairly large village. It was all around him--a landscape with circular fields and raised mounds of tree-covered earth, and straight lines that ran towards the horizon for hundreds of miles. There were also square lakes, obviously man-made. What excited Denevan was its sheer scale. Whoever had civilized this vast landscape had spread their raised fields, ditches and reservoirs over thousands of acres. As Saavedra penetrated the waterways with their overhanging trees in a motor-driven boat, he was actually traveling through a man-made waterscape that extended for hundred of thousands of square miles, as far as the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. These canals often connected rivers on the great swampy plain, so that the whole area might be compared to Venice, but thousands of times larger. (123)

Much Peruvian skill in their early days went into the development of an irrigation system along the dry coastal belt. Here they deflected the rivers taking the water that ran westwards from the Andes to develop rich agricultural areas out of the rainless sand. They commonly did this with the aid of irrigation canals. However, they also, tapped underground waters by digging into the sloping ground horizontal wells called guanats. These were long tunnels with frequent vertical shafts for ventilation. This very specialised system for collecting water is used in the Middle East to this day. (135)

Mesoamerica

In the New World, the most important domesticates were maize, beans, squash, peppers, potatoes, turkey, guinea pigs (as a food source), and llamas (although some poeple would add to this cacao, from which chacolate is derived). Like their Old World relatives, New World peoples complemented their staple domesticates with a wide range of other plants, including manioc, sunflowers, amaranth, gourds, and cotton, as well as "recreational" plants like coca (from which cocaine is derived) and tobacco. But, for reasons not clearly understood, New World peoples did not domesticate any large draught animals suitable for plowing or riding, and this fact alone may explain much of the difference between the later cultural histories of the Old and New Worlds: plowing, even the simple, single blade of a wood plow, opens up many areas to agriculture that connot be farmed otherwise.(27)

The efficiencies of the maize-beans-squash-potatoes group is such that it was the basis of life all over the New World when the Europeans colonists first arrived.(27)

…it is clear that permanent-field, intensified agriculture, not swidden agriculture, must be seen as the basis for Maya civilization. (51)

As a result, domestic mammals made no contribution to the protein needs of native Australians and Americans except in the Andes, where their contribution was still much slighter than in the Old World. No native American or Australian mammal ever pulled a plough, cart, or war chariot, gave milk, or bore a rider. (114)

…the ancestor of corn was a Mexican wild grass that did have the advantage of big seeds but in other respects hardly seemed like a promising food plant: annual teosinte. Teosinte ears look so different from corn ears that scientists argued about teosinte's precise role in corn's ancestry till recently, and even now some scientists remain unconvinced. No other crop underwent such drastic changes on domestication as did teosinte. It has only six to twelve kernels per ear, and they are inedible, because they're enclosed in stone-hard cases. One can chew teosinte stalks like sugar cane, as Mexican farmers still do. But no one uses its seeds today, and there is no indication that anyone did prehistorically either. (114)

Hugh Iltis identified the key step in teosinte's becoming useful: a permanent sex change! In teosinte the side branches end in tassels composed of male flowers; in corn they end in female structures, the ears. Although that sounds like a drastic difference, it's really a simple hormonally controlled change that could have been started by a fungus, virus, or change in climate. Once some flowers on the tassel had changed sex to female, they would have produced edible naked grains likely to catch the attention of hungry hunter-gatherers. The tassel's central branch would then have been the beginning of a corncob. Early Mexican archaeological sites have yielded remains of tiny ears, barely an inch and a half long and much like the tiny ears of our Tom Thumb corn variety. (114)

In the New World, however, the temperate zone of North America is isolated from the temperate zone of the Andes and southern South America by thousands of miles of tropics, in which temperate-zone species can't survive. As a result, the llama, alpaca, and guinea pig of the Andes never spread in prehistoric times to North America or even to Mexico, which consequently remained without any domestic mammals to carry packs or to produce wool or meat (except for corn-fed edible dogs). Potatoes as well failed to spread from the Andes to Mexico or North America, while sunflowers never spread from North America to the Andes. Many crops that were apparently shared prehistorically between North and South America actually occurred as different varieties or even species in the two continents, suggesting that they were domesticated independently in both areas. This seems true, for instance, of cotton, beans, lima beans, chili peppers, and tobacco. Corn did spread from Mexico to both North and South America, but it evidently wasn't easy, perhaps because of the time it took to develop varieties suited to other latitudes. Not until around 900 AD--thousands of years after corn had emerged in Mexico--did corn become a staple food in the Mississippi Valley, thereby triggering the belated rise of the mysterious mound-building civilization of the American Midwest. (114)

It was Paul Martin, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, who described the dramatic outcome of hunter-meets-elephant as a "blitzkrieg." According to his view, the first hunters to emerge from the ice-free corridor at Edmonton thrived and multiplied, because they found an abundance of tame, easy-to-hunt big mammals. As the mammals were killed off in one area, the hunters and their offspring kept fanning out into new areas that still had abundant mammals, and kept exterminating the mammal populations at the front of their advance. By the time the hunters' front finally reached the south tip of South America, most of the big mammal species of the New World had been exterminated. (114)

North America

In the New World, the most important domesticates were maize, beans, squash, peppers, potatoes, turkey, guinea pigs (as a food source), and llamas (although some poeple would add to this cacao, from which chacolate is derived). Like their Old World relatives, New World peoples complemented their staple domesticates with a wide range of other plants, including manioc, sunflowers, amaranth, gourds, and cotton, as well as "recreational" plants like coca (from which cocaine is derived) and tobacco. But, for reasons not clearly understood, New World peoples did not domesticate any large draught animals suitable for plowing or riding, and this fact alone may explain much of the difference between the later cultural histories of the Old and New Worlds: plowing, even the simple, single blade of a wood plow, opens up many areas to agriculture that connot be farmed otherwise.(27)

The efficiencies of the maize-beans-squash-potatoes group is such that it was the basis of life all over the New World when the Europeans colonists first arrived.(27)

The modern United States ' agricultural economy is so productive that it is somewhat surprising just how poor a place it was for pre-industrial subsistence farmers. First, most of it is far from the equator and therefore has less solar radiation and fewer frost-free days, and thus lower absolute agricultural potential, than more southern environments--such as the ones in the Middle East and Mesoamerica , for example, where the world's earliest farmers appeared. Second, those areas of North America that are today the fertile fields of Iowa, Missouri, and other areas of the Plains and Middle West were for the most part unavailable to the Native American farmer, because they lacked the plows and draft animals that can rip through thick grasses and other vegetation to reveal these fertile soils and the other machines that are needed to suppress the competition to crops from weeds. Third, much of the area between the Atlantic Coast and the western reaches of the Mississippi River drainage were thickly forested and relatively cool, "closed-canopy climax forests," which could be exploited for nuts and a few other resources but were in most areas an unprepossessing place for the maize-beans-squash farming that became the basis for Native American cultivation in North America. Fourth, the areas of California and other parts of the West that are today food suppliers to the world were far too arid for anything but basic subsistence agriculture until modern irrigation systems were installed. (53)

…it was the oil- and starch-rich seeds of a variety of plants that formed the basis of initial agriculture in eastern North America . Among the primary domesticated plants were goosefoot, sumpweed, sunflowers, wild gourds, maygrass, little barley, knotweed, and other plants. (53)



In the prehistoric American Middle West the transition to the agricultural way of life was a process in which native crops and wild plant foods were replaced by maize, beans, and squash (the thickness of the shaded and black areas reflects relative importance of the different resources). (53)

As a result, domestic mammals made no contribution to the protein needs of native Australians and Americans except in the Andes, where their contribution was still much slighter than in the Old World. No native American or Australian mammal ever pulled a plough, cart, or war chariot, gave milk, or bore a rider. (114)

In the New World, however, the temperate zone of North America is isolated from the temperate zone of the Andes and southern South America by thousands of miles of tropics, in which temperate-zone species can't survive. As a result, the llama, alpaca, and guinea pig of the Andes never spread in prehistoric times to North America or even to Mexico, which consequently remained without any domestic mammals to carry packs or to produce wool or meat (except for corn-fed edible dogs). Potatoes as well failed to spread from the Andes to Mexico or North America, while sunflowers never spread from North America to the Andes. Many crops that were apparently shared prehistorically between North and South America actually occurred as different varieties or even species in the two continents, suggesting that they were domesticated independently in both areas. This seems true, for instance, of cotton, beans, lima beans, chili peppers, and tobacco. Corn did spread from Mexico to both North and South America, but it evidently wasn't easy, perhaps because of the time it took to develop varieties suited to other latitudes. Not until around 900 AD--thousands of years after corn had emerged in Mexico--did corn become a staple food in the Mississippi Valley, thereby triggering the belated rise of the mysterious mound-building civilization of the American Midwest. (114)

It was Paul Martin, a geoscientist at the University of Arizona, who described the dramatic outcome of hunter-meets-elephant as a "blitzkrieg." According to his view, the first hunters to emerge from the ice-free corridor at Edmonton thrived and multiplied, because they found an abundance of tame, easy-to-hunt big mammals. As the mammals were killed off in one area, the hunters and their offspring kept fanning out into new areas that still had abundant mammals, and kept exterminating the mammal populations at the front of their advance. By the time the hunters' front finally reached the south tip of South America, most of the big mammal species of the New World had been exterminated. (114)

Other

The key to colonization of the Pacific Islands was in the form of several domesticated plants and animals that together provided a stable source of food. Domesticated pigs and chickens were primary meat sources, along with fish and birds, but the mainstays of the diet were cultivated tubers. One of the most important of these is taro, a perennial tropical plant with large, starchy, tuberous roots. Another Pacific Island staple is breadfruit, the globular fruit of the breadfruit tree. The breadfruit tree grows to heights of 18 meters (60 feet) or more. Among the most important foods of the Pacific are yams, the tuberous roots of several species of vines. (50)

As a result, domestic mammals made no contribution to the protein needs of native Australians and Americans except in the Andes, where their contribution was still much slighter than in the Old World. No native American or Australian mammal ever pulled a plough, cart, or war chariot, gave milk, or bore a rider. (114)

…the evidence seems to me overwhelming that humans also played a role in those prehistoric extinctions outside Polynesia and Madagascar. In each part of the world an extinction wave occurred after the first arrival of humans, but didn't occur simultaneously in other areas undergoing similar climate swings, and didn't occur in the same area whenever similar climate swings had occurred previously. (114)

...wheat...has a peculiar genetic make-up; it has more genes than humans. (147)

Easter Island shows clear signs of prehistoric contact with both the South American mainland and with Polynesia - the chicken and the banana, for example, could only have been introduced from Polynesia whilst the sweet potato, the bottle gourd and the totora reed could only have been introduced from South America. (161)