The Farming Revolution
Farming changed how humans live. It began around 12,000 years ago.
Before farming, humans traditionally were hunter-gatherers. This means they always searched for food. They moved their homes around constantly.
After farming began they had a more steady food supply. This allowed people to stay in one place.
Soon, cities and civilizations grew. Plants and animals could now be farmed to meet more people's needs. The world's population rocketed. Ten thousand years ago the world had about five million people. Today, there are more than seven billion people.
There wasn't just one reason why people tried farming. It happened in different parts of the world. Some early evidence of farming exists in the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East. This includes areas we know today as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, and Turkey. There, the climate was changing. The last ice age had just ended.
Perhaps better weather conditions made it easier to farm certain plants.
Humans first started growing wild crops, including wheat, barley, and peas in the Middle East. This happened around 9,000 years ago. Figs, a kind of fruit, were grown even earlier. They were probably planted about 11,300 years ago.
Slowly, humans tried farming at home. There is proof of this in ancient villages. Old homes were found with stones used to grind up grain.
Rice was grown in eastern China. This happened around 6,000 B.C.E.
In Mexico, squash was farmed around 10,000 years ago. Corn, also known as maize, came later.
Maize first began as a grass-like plant. At some point, the plant had a change in its genes. This made it look like the corn that we know today.
Genes are made up of tiny segments of DNA. DNA is the building block of life. It tells a person's body how to learn and grow. Genes are passed from parents to children.
Mutations are changes that happen in DNA. These changes can be passed from parents to children. Gene mutations can also happen to a living thing during its life.
More people began to grow the mutated maize. Maize-like plants were probably grown about 9,000 years ago. The first corn was grown around 5,500 years ago.
Corn reached North America about 5,000 years ago. This is also when potato growing started. It began in the mountains of South America.
Cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs were soon farmed, too. This happened about 13,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Animal farming started in the Fertile Crescent. Farming soon spread further west into Europe. Studies show that goats and other animals came, too.
Before this, people could not drink cow milk. There is a natural chemical in milk called lactose. The human body could not digest it.
Then, something changed during the spread of farming. A mutation in human genes occurred. People became able to drink lactose without problems.
Milk can be healthy for the body. More people were drinking it. The people that could tolerate lactose passed on their genes to their children.
Today, many Europeans have the milk-drinking gene. This proves most of them have cow farmers as ancestors.
the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).
plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less.
grass cultivated as a grain.
type of grain, including wheat.
large settlement with a high population density.
complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.
to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.
the process of adapting wild plants or animals for human use.
very expressive or emotional.
change in heritable traits of a population over time.
land cultivated for crops, livestock, or both.
region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf.
fruit and tree native to Asia.
change to the genetic structure of an organism.
the gathering and collection of crops, including both plants and animals.
person who gets food by using a combination of hunting, fishing, and foraging.
noun, plural noun
animals raised for sale and profit.
to move from one place or activity to another.
a type of grain.
imprecise term for countries in southwestern Asia, sometimes including Egypt.
(~9000 B.C.E. to ~2000 B.C.E.) last phase of the Stone Age, following the Mesolithic.
having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.
constant or lasting forever.
period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.
dependable or consistent.
likely to change with the seasons.
community or village.
large community, linked through similarities or relationships.
prehistoric period where human ancestors made and used stone tools, lasting from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 7000 BCE.
movement from one position to another.
most widely grown cereal in the world.