The Mark of Agriculture 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. The Neolithic revolution took place approximately ten to twelve thousand years ago in an area of the Middle East we call the Fertile Crescent. When agriculture first took hold there they began by cultivating wheat. From there agriculture spread to the surrounding areas and into Asia Minor. Each geographical region growing the grain most suited to that area. Once it was realized that this food source was easy to grow and a surplus could be created, subsistence as we knew it changed forever. (Sinclair and Sinclair 2010; Tudge 1998)
Each of the three revolutions were 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 has been 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 because they did not rely on one food source. Since there was no dependence upon a single crop the people of the Paleolithic and prior were not as lacking in the essential nutrients. Their diets did, on occasion, become deficient because of the seasonality of certain food sources. (Cohen and Armela...

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...on Loveren 2003) In fact, many studies have shown that the teeth of agricultural based subsistence show about double the rate of caries than those of previous time periods.

Works Cited

Armelagos, George J., and Alan C. Swedlund. Disease in Populations in Transition: Anthropological and
Epidemiological Perspectives. New York: Praeger, 1990.

Cohen, Mark N., and George J. Armelagos, eds. Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture.
Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1984.

Cohen, Mark Nathan. Health and the Rise of Civilization. Reprint ed. New Haven, CT: Yale
University Press, 1991.

Sinclair, Thomas R., and Carol Janas Sinclair. Bread, Beer, and the Seeds of Change: Agriculture’s
Impact On World History. Cambridge, MA: CABI, 2010.

Tudge, Colin. Neanderthals, Bandits, and Farmers: How Agriculture Really Began. New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1999.

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