How did the Neolithic Revolution set the stage for early civilizations?

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The Neolithic Revolution represents the discovery of agriculture, and with it, the transition from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary one. This moment has had long reaching repercussions, ultimately shaping everything that has followed afterwards.

When you study Ancient History, you'll observe that the very earliest civilizations arose in...

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The Neolithic Revolution represents the discovery of agriculture, and with it, the transition from a hunter gatherer lifestyle to a sedentary one. This moment has had long reaching repercussions, ultimately shaping everything that has followed afterwards.

When you study Ancient History, you'll observe that the very earliest civilizations arose in river valleys (which tend to provide excellent conditions for farming). Furthermore, if you look still further back into the archaeological records, you tend to observe the presence of agricultural communities in those same regions. As it is often taught and understood, the Neolithic Revolution represents the starting point to a larger chain of influences. With agriculture, societies become sedentary rather than migratory. As populations within these sedentary communities grow larger over time, the first cities start to form. It is from these processes that civilization begins to emerge.

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The Neolithic Revolution marked the beginning of agricultural practices.  Without agriculture, early civilization would not have been possible.  A steady source of food allowed tribes to stay in one place during much of the year.  This meant that tribes claimed land as their own in order to ensure that they had the best fields.  This meant that people needed to form governments and laws.  Governments and laws needed a written language, and this led to the formation of writing.  Since agriculture was more efficient than hunting and gathering, the entire population did not have to be concerned with food production, which allowed some people to specialize in other things, such as the creation of weapons or pottery.  Also, while famines can still affect agricultural societies, it is less likely than with a gathering society. Accordingly, the human population grew after the Neolithic Revolution.  Also, people looked to domesticate draft animals in order to plow the fields more efficiently.  Trade soon grew between kingdoms as the amount of trade goods increased, and people sought different foods from other regions.  

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The Neolithic Revolution was the time in history when people first started to practice agriculture.  At this point, they started to domesticate plants and animals.  This changed the world forever and led to the the creation of civilizations.

The beginnings of agriculture lead to civilization in a number of ways:

  • They produce more food, allowing some people to become artisans, merchants, government officials, etc -- all the things you need to have a civilization.
  • They allow people to live together in dense towns and cities.   These are necessary for civilization and they also cause a need for governments to keep the peace between all these unrelated people.
  • They (in some places) give rise to a need for public works like irrigation projects.  This also makes governments more necessary.

 

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