What is the Neolithic Revolution and how did settlement patterns and life change as a result?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Neolithic Revolution, or Agricultural Revolution, was the human shift from hunting and gathering to planting and domestication of animals.  It was made possible by the warming climate that occurred after the last ice age.  The shift from hunting to farming had profound effects on humanity.

After humans learned to plant and domesticate, a move away from nomadic existence was possible.  Humans gravitated to water sources like creeks and rivers.  River valleys became popular destinations. An important result of farming was that larger yields of food allowed for larger populations.  The larger populations led to the first permanent settlements.  Small farming villages grew into towns, which eventually turned into large river civilizations.

The birth of larger settlements also had consequences.  The need to manage surplus resulted in more complex governments being established.  With larger populations living in such close proximity to one another, disease was more common.  

The idea that humans could produce a surplus of food and other goods led to many new developments.  One negative that arose from farming was a competition for resources, which led to the advent of warfare.  The allocation of these resources also led to the first social class systems and specialized jobs.  In order to keep track of the surpluses, writing systems were invented.

The consequences of the Neolithic Revolution would be unmatched in scope and scale until the Industrial Revolution many millenia later.