Friday, September 19, 2008

The Harvest Thing

The advent of agriculture was arguably the most significant development in the history of humankind. Isaac Asimov's Chronology of the World and Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's Ideas That Changed the World both outline the impact, and many other things.

A few of the ramifications include:

  1. The change from nomadic to settled lifestyles -- If you build it, you will stay.
  2. The beginning of private property -- A rolling stone gathers no moss, but a stationary one?
  3. The beginning of war -- Settled people had to defend their property, and not simply retreat.
  4. The establishment of cities -- People lived together for common defense and support.
  5. The dominance of work -- No more wandering around, eating whatever comes your way. Work was an every day thing, at least until the weekend was invented.
  6. The beginning of career diversity -- A few farmers could raise enough to feed a city.
  7. The switch to a more fiber and carbohydrate based diet -- Eat the cereal on hand, or go catch a burger?
  8. Acceleration of population growth -- With a steady diet and no need to carry the kids around, why not?
  9. The invention of calendars -- Harvest time again already?

As Asimov points out, civilis, Latin for "city dweller," is really the basis for civilization. So that's when it started ... about 8,000 BC.

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