Agriculture (American Indians Ready Reference)
Article abstract: Although the North American Indians have a long tradition of agriculture, it has not been successfully integrated with white agriculture; Indian agriculture has steadily declined
The beginnings of agriculture among the Indians of North America stretch far back into prehistory, perhaps as far back as seven thousand years. Exactly when it began—when the native peoples of North America began relying on deliberately cultivated crops for a portion of their caloric requirements—is a matter of debate. What is not in debate is where it began: Mexico is clearly the location of the earliest efforts to produce cultivated crops. From there, knowledge and seeds appear to have radiated outward, notably northward.
The progress of agriculture was very slow. It began with the domestication of one or two wild plants, the gathering of their seeds, and deliberate planting and raising of them at a prepared site in order to be able to harvest the resulting crop. Most likely the first efforts were more like gardens than agricultural fields, for the Indians were constrained by two factors that did not affect residents of the Old World: The Indians lacked metal tools and they lacked domesticated animals. All agriculture was hand labor, with tools that lacked the precise usefulness of modern, metal tools.
In time, however, the Indians were able to produce larger and larger portions of their caloric requirements from...
(The entire section is 2943 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Agriculture (Encyclopedia of Science)
The development of agriculturehe raising of crops and animals for foodas been fundamental to the development of civilization. Farming brought about the settlement of farm communities, which grew into towns and city-states. Farming also made possible sedentary (settled) lifestyles, which in turn led to increased technological development. As growing populations demand an ever-increasing food supply, the need for agricultural advances continues to this day.
Four stages of agricultural development
Agriculture advanced in four major stages that were closely linked with other key historical periods. The first, the Neolithic or New Stone Age, marks the beginning of sedentary farming. Although much of this history is lost in antiquity, dating back 10,000 years or more, anthropologists believe farming arose because of increasing population. The major technological development of this ancient time was the plow. Appearing in Mesopotamia (an ancient region in southwest Asia) around 4000 B.C., the plow allowed farmers to plant crops in rows, saving time and increasing food production.
The second major advance came as a result of Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus's voyages to the New World in the late fifteenth century. The connecting of the New World and the Old World saw the exchange of farming products and methods. From the New World came maize...
(The entire section is 741 words.)