Neolithic Agricultural Revolution: Causes and Implications

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  • 0:06 Nomadic Lifestyle
  • 1:11 Agricultural Lifestyle
  • 1:43 Benefits of an…
  • 3:09 Barbarians vs. Romans
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Max Pfingsten

Max has an MA in Classics, Religion, Philosophy, Behavioral Genetics, a Master of Education, and a BA in Classics, Religion, Philosophy, Evolutionary Psychology.

A long, long time ago, human beings roamed the earth looking for food. Then the agricultural revolution struck! What are the benefits of an agrarian society, and how have they shaped the way we live today?

Nomadic Lifestyle

Humans as we know them have been walking around for about 200,000 years. Yet despite having bigger brains and finer hands, we continued to behave as our predecessors had. This was a nomadic lifestyle, following herds and gathering wild plants and fruits along the way. Then about 10,000 years ago, we came to a divide. On this side we had the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle we'd always known. On the far side we had settled agriculture. The differences between these two are simple, but, as we shall see, they have lasting implications.

As a nomad you must find your food. Since you must find your food, you must move before your food sources are depleted or before your food wanders off. Since you must be able to move, you can only store as much food as you can carry. Storage is particularly difficult because as a nomad you eat mostly meat, which has high nutritional value but is difficult to preserve and store.

Agricultural Lifestyle

Now let's look at the other side of the divide. As a farmer you make your own food. In fact, you can produce more food than you can eat. This is called a surplus. Since growing crops takes time, you must stay put to care for your plants. Since you're not going anywhere anyway, you have the option of storing LOTS of food. Storage is made easy because as a farmer you eat very little meat, but a lot of grains, which have a low nutritional value but are very easy to preserve and store. So when drought hits and the hunting is bad, nomads must move along or starve to death, while farmers can survive off the surpluses they stored.

Benefits of an Agricultural Society

The division of labor was made possible because one farmer can feed several people
Division of Labor

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