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On the Development of Agriculture

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    Posted: 30 Mar 2010 at 22:58
I've written a quick little snippet here, I'll have to source it later, running a bit late for my Deviant Behavior and Criminal Psychology class.  SleepyClap

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Scholars have proposed a number of different theories to attempt to explain the development of agriculture. After the last ice age (c. 11,000 B.C.E.) much of the earth was subject to long periods of drought, conditions that favored annual plants. These annuals produced an abundance of wild grains that could be stored for extended periods of time. One theory that attempts to describe the development of agriculture, and the one that is currently accepted by most academic scholars, is the Intentionality theory, which states that “agriculture is a co-evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans.” Several other theories believe that agriculture is the result of the “tragedy of the commons,” where people exceed the carrying capacity of the land.

Archaeologically speaking, farm technology and grain stores have been found worldwide that pre-date their middle eastern counterparts. At several sites along the Kom Ombo Plain (10,000 – 13,000 B.C.E.) numerous grinding stones for processing food have been found and C-14 dated to approximately 12,000 ±200 years. Elsewhere in Egypt, particularly in the area in and around Wadi Kubbaniya, during the same time period, polished flint blades and sicle shaped scythes have been found. (Smith, 1976) Professors Fred Wendorf and Dr. Romuald Schild, both of the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University, have made discoveries related to agriculture in Upper Paleolithic times around Wadi Kubbaniya. Thy have found Grinding stones, a mortar and pestle, and several harvesting implements. Carbon 14 dating of thee objects ranged from 15,000 to 16,300 B.C.E., specifically 15,850 ±200 years, and 15,130 ±200 years. (Wendorf et. al. 1981, 1998) According to Wendorf, “There are not only Late Paleolithic sites which have been discovered in Egypt along the Nile, nor are they alone in containing stone artifact assemblages which seem to indicate the harvesting of grain. Among others are several sites at Wadi Tushka, near Abu Simbel, at Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, and a third group [a whole series of sites] near Esna. All these are in the Nile Valley." Wendorf adds, “The Esna sites, which exhbit extensive use of cereals, date from 13,000 to 14,500 years ago.” (Wendorf et. al. 1981, 1998) Schild goes on to further elaborate "While the flaked stone industries from them are different from those found at Kubbaniya, the Tushka site yielded several pieces of stone with lustrous edges, indicating that they were used as sickles in harvesting grain." (Wendorf et. al. 1998) Professor Smith goes on to say “With the benefit of hindsight we can now see that many Late Paleolithic peoples in the Old World were poised on the brink of plant cultivation and animal husbandry as an alternative to the hunter-gatherer's way of life.” (Smith, 1976) According to Smith, “Incipient agriculture was being practiced in North Africa during the Late Paleolithic, leading into the Mesolithic Age.”

Elsewhere in the world, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas, agriculture was also being developed independently. According to Dr. Thomas W. Jacobsen, classical archeologist at the University of Pennsylvania, there are indications that during the Final Paleolithic Age in Greece both plant and animal domestication had taken place. (Jacobsen, 1976) Also, Agriculture in South America has been continually pushed back by new discoveries. Professor Robert Banfer, leader of an anthropological team from the University of Missouri, discovered an ancient farming village near Paloma, Peru. Carbon-14 dating of chacoal fragments place the village around 8,000 B.C.E. (Hammond, 1981, 1994) The village discovered by Banfer contained hundreds of grass-lined food storage pits, some of which contained large stores of seeds and fossil remains, demonstrating that “these early farmers were thoroughly familiar wih food production, storage and control.” (Hammond, 1981) Accoding to Banfer, “the evidence indicates that they practiced a primitive technique of farming which denuded the countryside, eventually turning it into a desert.” He goes on to state that “among other crops, the inhabitants grew peanuts, squash, and various kinds of peppers.” (Hammond, 1981)

It is now generally accepted by historians and archaeologists, that agriculture developed seperately in Catal Huyuk, Turkey, at Jarmo, Iraq, among the Starcevo Koros sites in Rumania and Yugoslavia, in the Nile delta in the aforementoned areas, and in north and south America independently, and around the same time. Thus, it is an irrational belief that agriculture was “invented” in any one specific place (particularly Mesopotamia), when independent developments have occurred world wide, some of which contain artifacts that predate the Mesopotamian artifacts by thousands of years. Agriculture, according to the current theory of evolutionality/intentionality, is the result of co-evolution between plants and animals, that has led to the simultaneous development of farms and agricultural practices worldwide. (Pollan, 2008)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dancing_Shadows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Mar 2010 at 22:59
for some reason my quotation marks show up as little Ae symbols... and my (+ over -) sign...reasons?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 07:08
You are "cutting and pasting"...it's as simple as that. The diacritic and as well as other marks are not compatible.
 
By the way, no one has viewed the "origins" of agriculture as a function of the "Fertile crescent" or the Nile Valley; however, keep in mind that the existance of food storage artefacts is not in itself a sign that sedentary "agriculture" was practiced.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dancing_Shadows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 09:26
Yeah I typed it in microsoft word before I posted it on here.  Should I not do that then?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 12:15
First, let me welcome you to the forum and its many corners...now on to business. If you do not feel confident enough--we old "dawgs" exercise stream of consciousness historical narration--and when we "snip" rather than link material, then simply permor the chose of removing accents and other diacritic marks as well as replace quotes and apostrophesif they were originally entered in some old MS product. A while back there was no problem and I was one of those that went wild transcribing original languages to the anger of "They who must be obeyed"...but enough of politics.
 
On this theme, which is an interesting one on its own, one can not presume that agriculture and its practices requires a systemically sedentary population that woke up one day and "invented" farming. A grinding tool does not even serve as evidence that grains were cultivated and storage is as much a problem for migratory populations as it is for sedentary ones.
 
Here is an interesting site with postulates for the Mesolithic:
 
 
Are you familiar with this title from 1993 by David Harris originally published by the Institute of Archaeology, University College, London (revised and re-edited: 1996)
 
David Harris. The Origin and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia. Washington: Smihsonian, 1996.
 
Or
 
Peter Bellwood. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.
 
 


Edited by drgonzaga - 01 Apr 2010 at 00:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carcharodon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 22:38
One must also remember that artefacts alone are not the only way to detect traces of agriculture, plant cultivation or animal domestication. paleobothanical and paleoecological and osteological evidence are also important and if possible should complement the study of artifacts, settlement patterns, storage facilities and structures like ancient fields and similar.
 
By the way, one can also mention that New Guinea is considered by many archaeologists as another place where agriculture has been invented or discovered independently. It seems that the peoples here invented a lot of very ingenous methods to cope with local ecological circumstances.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dolphin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 22:57
I don't know the answer to your question, but I thought I'd drop in and congratulate you on such a good choice of course topic! (I did practically the same thing last term Smile)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dancing_Shadows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 23:29
Thanks guys, I am going to look into it a bit more, that was just a brief writeup to garner suggestions and whatnot :)

Thanks for the tips, I am going to research some more after class today.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dancing_Shadows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Mar 2010 at 23:33
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

David Harris. The Origin and Spread of Agriculture and Pastoralism in Eurasia. Washington: Smihsonian, 1996.
 
Or
 
Peter Bellwood. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.
 
 


I am familiar with Bellwood, haven't encountered the Harris work yet, will have to give it a look.
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