lec 3 handout

lec 3 handout - Lecture 3 1 Lecture 3 Neolithic Revolution...

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1 Lecture 3 Neolithic Revolution and the Discovery of Agriculture The Great Technological Discoveries of Pre-history 1. The discovery of tools. Although there are examples of “tools” being used by animals, from ants to apes, the development of tools is one of the distinguishing characteristics of humans. The development of tools such as fl int points, axes (Fig. 3-1), weapons such as the spear and the bow and arrow, snares, and hooks is a refl ection of the change from gathering and scavenging to hunting. The development of hunting societies leads to social organization. 2. The discovery and control of fi re. Fire provides heat and light and expands the food supply. A great many foods are inedible, unpalatable, or unsanitary without the cooking process. In the Greek leg- end, Prometheus stole fi re from the Gods and was punished by being chained to a rock with an eagle continually pecking away at his liver. The discovery of techniques to preserve fi re and to make fi re through combustion is a key discovery of humankind; techniques include percussion (iron pyrites and fl int), wood friction, and fi re piston (Asia). 3. The invention of agriculture. Agriculture refers to a series of discoveries involving the domestication, culture, and management of plants and animals. It is one of the most far reaching discoveries of early humans leading to profound social changes. It is clearly the basis for civilizations. Agriculture was adopted repeatedly and independently in various parts of the world after the retreat of the Pleitocene ice around 12,000 years ago. This warming trend affected the Middle East, northern China, and Me- soamerican where agriculture began. 4. The invention of the wheel. The wheel is not only the basis for the mechanical and transportation revo- lution but is involved with the technologies of ceramics and spinning. The Neolithic Age. The Neolithic or New Stone Age (7 to 10,000 years ago) pertains to a stage of culture following the Paleolithic and is characterized by the use of polished stone implements, development of permanent dwell- ings, cultural advances such as pottery making, domestication of animals and plants, the cultivation of grain and fruit trees, and weaving (Fig. 3-2). The change from hunting/gathering to primitive farming appears so abrupt that this technological change is often characterized as the Neolithic Revolution . The discovery of smelting and the creation of bronze tools has given the name Bronze Age to the Late Neolithic period. Origins of Agriculture Agriculture must be thought of as a series of discoveries involving the domestication of plants and animals and their management (Fig. 3-3). The precise origin of the fi rst center of agriculture is obscure. Carl O. Sauer (1952) has proposed that the beginnings may be southeast Asia. Its candidacy is proposed as a result of: Different ecological types A mild climate Ability to support a population by hunting and fi shing A naturally rich fl ora—especially asexually propagated plants. It is likely that planting of vegetative plants preceded the planting of seed.
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lec 3 handout - Lecture 3 1 Lecture 3 Neolithic Revolution...

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