Food Security: Rethinking The Agricultural Revolution
The Agricultural, or Neolithic (New-Stone Age) Revolution , marks the birth of modern civilization. Traditional wisdom says that is when we started to become us. That is when we began to grow crops, build cities, develop trade routes, practice specialized crafts and skills, and start the process of becoming the fully evolved species that we have become. That is when we began to move away from being primitive, perhaps even brutish, hunter gatherers who lived on a subsistence diet, constantly on the brink of starvation. That is when we began to conquer and subdue our environment. It was the beginning of a time of great progress and enlightenment. Or was it?
Detail of a miniature of a man ploughing with oxen. Image taken from Bestiary. Written in Latin and French. (Public Domain)
Which Came First Building Or Agriculture?
Is it time to re-examine what we have all been taught for so long that it is now fully ingrained in our thinking to the point where we scarcely question it anymore? Dare we re-examine such a basic, underlying “fact” of anthropological history? And, to take the idea one step further, did the Agricultural Revolution represent a step forward in our evolution, or was it instead a detriment — a dead end path that, so far at least, has kept us from our real goal of becoming fully evolved, spiritual beings?
This is a radical, but increasingly important, way of thinking that is gathering momentum among serious academics who are increasingly worried about out-of-control population growth. The current, traditional, and generally accepted academic opinion states: When our ancestors joined together to build great megalithic complexes around the world, such as Göbekli Tepe in Anatolia, Eridu, Uruk, and Ur in Mesopotamia, Luoyang on China’s central plain, and other ancient cities in various eras, they needed to provide a stable food supply for what soon became a burgeoning population. The debate continues as to which came first, building or agriculture. In other words, did the development of agriculture lead to a sedentary population who soon graduated to an urban civilization? Or did urban civilization create the necessity of agriculture?
From the royal tombs of Ur, the Standard of Ur mosaic, made of lapis lazuli and shell, shows peacetime. (Public Domain)
Most academics are inclined to theorize the former, rather than the latter, explanation. It seems logical to assume that the change to large-scale agriculture led to the growth of cities. But it is important to remember that this became the accepted theory because it seems logical, not because it is necessarily deduced from the archaeological record.
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Jim Willis is author of several books on religion and spirituality, he has been an ordained minister for over forty years while working part-time as a carpenter, the host of his own drive-time radio show, an arts council director and adjunct college professor in the fields of World Religions and Instrumental Music. He is the author of Hidden Histories: Ancient Aliens and the Secret Origins of Civilization
By Jim Willis