The paleolithic age lasted from around 2.5 Million BC to 10,000 BC and was characterized by foraging and hunting. Foragers gathered fruits, nuts, wild grains, and grasses. Hunters secured the meat, though the best way to hunt was by fishing since fish won’t try to eat you.
The hunter gatherer lifestyle was not too bad in general. The bones and teeth of hunter gatherers are healthier than those of agriculturalists. They spent fewer hours working than we do, and had more time to spend on art, storytelling, and sex.
Then sometime around 10,000 BC, people began to grow crops, and everything changed. The cultivation of crops arose independently in different regions of the world, and people abandoned the hunter gatherer lifestyle.
People now had control of the food supply, and also started domesticating animals. Cows could provide milk, oxen could pull plows, and sheep could provide wool.
We can’t really know for sure why this change happened, but we have some guesses:
- Climate change may have played a role in this, since the ice age had recently ended.
- Increasing population pressure may have forced nomadic tribes to settle.
- Having abundant food may have given people the leisure time to experiment with domestication.
- Planting may have originated as a fertility rite.
- People may have needed to domesticate grains in order to produce more alcohol.
- People may have gravitated towards water as their water supplies dwindled.
- It could have been random experimentation.
- Charles Darwin believed agriculture was an accident.
- Having a controllable food supply leads to a better chance of not starving.
- People could create food surpluses, making cities and specialization possible. With extra food, groups could support some people doing things besides gathering food.
- Agriculture can be practiced all over the world, though some places are harder than others.
- In order to keep feeding people as the population grows, you have to radically change the environment. Building dams and clearing forests damage the environment.
- Hunter gatherer societies tended to be more egalitarian. Agricultural societies are associated with things like war and inequality.
- Domestication brings diseases, which bring a lot of death.
- The Agricultural Revolution: Crash Course World History #1
- The Neolithic Revolution: The Development of Agriculture - The Journey to Civilization #02
- The Neolithic Age Explained: Global History Review