Compare life before farming and after farming.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The development of farming was one of the most important developments in human history.  Farming changed the world, allowing civilization to arise.

Before farming, all humans were hunter-gatherers.  They got their food by hunting animals and by gathering wild plants.  Almost all hunter-gatherers were nomads.  They had to travel from place to place to follow food supplies.  Hunter-gatherers typically lived in relatively small groups.  The land could not generally sustain large groups so their populations had to be small.  They lived in egalitarian societies with leaders who only led through their ability to persuade others.  These groups generally lived good lives because they had plenty of food to eat, but they lacked most kinds of technology because they only had such things as could be carried with them from place to place.

With farming all of that changed.  People stopped being nomadic and settled down.  Because they were settled, they could have more material goods.  They also came to live in larger groups because farmers could grow more food than hunter-gatherers could gather.  In fact, farmers could grow enough food that not everyone in their society had to farm.  This meant that some people could do other kinds of jobs.  This helped lead to the creation of more technology.  It also led to the creation of strong governments that controlled the people’s lives much more than was possible in hunter-gatherer bands.  Governments emerged that took control of the surplus food produced by the farmers and used those surpluses to make themselves more powerful.  These societies were no longer egalitarian in the way the hunter-gatherers had been.

Thus, there were definitely good and bad points about the transition to farming.  Farming societies were richer in material goods but were less egalitarian, meaning that many people lived lives in which they were subjugated by their rulers.

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