A Short History of the World J. M. Roberts Essay

1000 Words 4 Pages
In A Short History of the World J. M. Roberts argues, “The Coming of Agriculture changed life so much and so deeply that nothing since would have been possible without it” (Roberts 1993, 22). Prior to the emergence of agriculture, and "for most of human history, people lived in relatively small groups, gathering, fishing, and hunting what they needed from their immediate environments" (Goucher and Walton 2013, 36). Because of the unpredictable nature of this way of life, hunting, gathering and fishing could not sustain large groups of people for extended periods of time. Seasonal influences, animal migrations or even human pressures on the environment often forced people to move their settlements to areas that could sustain their …show more content…
The domestication of plants resulted from this prolonged planting and harvesting of choice grain. As populations increased, the pressure grew to become even more productive as farmers. The domestication of animals as well as the introduction of iron technology and the harness allowed for greater productivity (Goucher and Walton 2013, 51). These technological innovations contributed to the societies' ability to sustain their growing populations with greater ease. Though early agriculture was degrading on the environment and more difficult and labor intensive than previous hunting, gathering and fishing strategies, the benefits far outweighed the costs. The emergence of agriculture allowed formerly mobile, small groups of people to lay down roots and become settled communities. Increased agricultural productivity led to the specialization of occupations including "woolen textiles, metal goods and pottery" (67). Specialization fostered the development of complex networks for trade which created greater diversity in resource availability and consumption. Early settled societies became "socially and materially complex communities" (Goucher and Walton 2013, 45). Productive agriculture allowed people time and space to explore other means of livelihood. This specialization of occupations contributed to the development of distinct class systems including rulers, scholars, priests, merchants, etc. as well as distinctions in gender

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