Friday, January 2, 2009

The Agricultural Age, 10,000 - 3,000 BC

At the beginning of this age, the the planet has warmed from the Ice Age to the temperatures of today. In Alaska, the ice prison has broken up and the humans began migrating to the rest of the continent. In northern Africa, the lush plains of the Sahara turned into the desert of today. To the retreating peoples, the Nile River valley beckoned.

Climate change caused large stands of wild grain grew thoughout the Middle East. Around 8000 people in northern Iraq began to deliberately plant these grains. The nearby Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided irrigation. After harvest, the grains were ground into flour which kept for long periods of time.

Historians call this age "The New Stone Age" or in Latin the "Neolithic Age". I don't think that advances in stonework was the determining factor in this era. It was warming of the planet and the subsequent development of farming.

Agriculture provided stability. It supported more people. It allowed people to congregate into cities. City folk were able to perform specialized tasks. Organization for defense and for commerce was needed. And people's imaginations were freed to pursue academic pursuits. Agriculture is the foundation that allows workers of other skills to prosper.

Jericho (yes, the one of the Bible) may be the world's oldest city, dating back to 8000. Posessing all of 10 acres and 2,500 people, it was the must-see metropolis of 7500. By 6000, pottery was developed. In the Far East, humans independently developed the farming of rice.

In the Sixth Millenium, the Sumerians took over the Iraq region and established a network of cities. In 4000 they founded the city of Ur and made it into the largest city in the world.
Egypt united under its first ruler in 3100. The Chinese established their first cities along the Yellow River about this time. Cities began in the Indus River Valley.

Towards the end of this era, the lands around the eastern Mediterranean began civilizations. In 4000 world population reached the unprecedented number of 85 million people. They lived in isolation from other civilizations but this was about to change.

Here's a related article.

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