The Agricultural Revolution



 The agricultural revolution produced a transformation of human society brought about by the invention of the plow, making large-scale agricultural production possible and leading to agrarian societies.
The agricultural revolution led to significant changes in world religions. Wars and armies tended to encourage the concept of male, warlike, tribal gods, capable of defending cities and cultures, rather than the female mother-earth goddesses of pastoral peoples. Gods such as Baal of the Canaanites and Jehovah of the Israelites tended to require more and bloodier sacrifices to prove their superiority over the gods of other indigenous people. Specialization of occupations led to professional clergy, along with the temples and traditional styles of worship inherent in formal religions. The invention of writing led to organized, systematic scriptures. Once beliefs were written down, they tended to become codified, in contrast to the fluid, evolving patterns of oral mythology. Written scriptures also tended to follow analytical patterns of thought, departing from the imaginative, intuitive patterns of oral culture. Over time, religions tended to become increasingly hierarchical and dominated by men.

The agricultural revolution marks the beginning of what we now call civilization or recorded history. When people discovered the benefits of cultivation and a predictable food source, the results were dramatic. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, populations exploded as large crops farmed by few people could support larger families and communities. Cities evolved as more people settled in one place. This shift led to specialization of occupations and the beginning of formal political and economic systems. As one city traded with another, the invention of writing made it possible both to communicate and keep track of wealth.

Modern understanding of the agricultural revolution sees it loosely as a three-stage, overlapping, process. The first phase, completed by c.1750-70, saw two developments: first, the introduction of new crops, particularly root crops such as turnips and swedes, which could be grown between grain crops; and second, a considerable rise in the productivity of labour. As a result of these changes less land needed to be left fallow, additional animal feedstuffs were grown, and greater quantities (and quality) of manure became available.

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The agricultural revolution had such a profound impact on society that many people call this era the "dawn of civilization." During this same period that the plow was invented, the wheel, writing, and numbers were also invented.

The agricultural revolution further accentuated the changes taking place due to the domestication revolution, extending those effects even farther in society.

During this period, stratification became a major feature of social life. An elite gained control of surplus resources and defended their position with arms. This centralization of power and resources eventually led to the development of the state as the rich and powerful developed the institution of the state to further consolidate their gains.