The Mark of Agriculture in Neolithic Revolution Essay

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There have been several major revolutions throughout human history. V. Gordon Childe explains them as; The Neolithic Revolution, The Urban Revolution and The Industrial Revolution. (Harris 1994) These revolutions mark monumental periods in human history. Each thought to be a tremendous benefit to the survival of humankind. However, when all of the evidence is taken into account, especially regarding the Neolithic revolution, it would appear that there is significant detriment to the survival of the human race. The Neolithic, the first of the revolutions, which is marked by the advent of agriculture, may in fact be the pivotal point of the human health decline.
Before agriculture, human populations relied heavily on the foods that they found, scavenged or hunted in their area of occupation. (Higman 2011) This form of subsistence generally led to a nutritionally balanced diet. Their diets did, on occasion, become lacking of certain nutrients because some food sources are only available seasonally. (Duncan and Scott 2004, Ingold 2002, Jochim 2012) The shift to agriculture led to substantial changes not only in subsistence but also in all other aspects of life. Agriculturalists worked harder; spending most of their day in the fields cultivating the land. This made a nomadic lifestyle, like most hunter—gatherers were accustomed to, virtually impossible. By becoming sedentary populations, humans have exposed themselves to higher instances of viruses, bacteria and parasitic diseases typically carried by the homo genus. (Stein 2010) When agriculture took hold, approximately 10,000 years ago, there was a massive shift to high carbohydrate based subsistence. Higher carbohydrate intakes combined with the added stresses of malnutrition, di...

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... C in the diet. Scurvy is recognized by moderate to severe weakness and spongy bleeding gums. (Greenwood 1937) Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is found in a number of foods; many of which a typical hunter—gatherer would have eaten on a daily basis. Potatoes and other tubers, green vegetables and citrus fruits are among a few of the foods that supplement enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy.


There are indicators that we can see in the teeth and bones that show the details of malnutrion Harris lines, typically seen in the long bones, are indicative of malnutrition or starvation. These lines are best described as “lines and bands of increased radiopacity.” (Cohen and Armelagos 1984) These lines have been seen in prehistoric populations though they became more prevalent in populations after agriculture took hold.

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