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How Agriculture Cropped Up Essay

3496 words - 14 pages

"Probably at first cultivation was an incidental activity of the women while their lords were engaged in the really serious business of the chase" (Childe 1965:82).Opinions and thoughts such as this dominated the minds of early theorists for many years. This is particularly humorous as Childe attributes the rise of agriculture to women when women were seen as secondary and subordinate to men.IntroductionSince the beginning of man's fascination with the past, he has been hypothesizing reasons for change. This has been the case with the origins of agriculture. In the first section, I will begin with a brief overview of some of the earliest theories used to explain our transition to agriculture from hunting and gathering and I will trace the changes in the theories from the some of the earliest up until present. By no means will I be covering all theories but I hope to give an overall perspective in regards to how far we have come in our theories and knowledge of agriculture's rise. Because this is meant to be a short paper, I plan to focus primarily on the Near East while devoting little or no attention to other areas where agriculture first developed. I intend to focus primarily of the theories of Childe, Braidwood, and Flannery, as they have been the dominant theorists for the Near East, while giving a smaller emphasis to a select few other theories that have interested me. I will mention the sites that each used to demonstrate their theories (if any), however, because the theories are meant to explain the general trends, I will focus on the trends themselves that have risen in the region. In the second section of the paper, I will focus on the site of Çatalhöyük. This site, one of the earliest settlements in the Neolithic transformation, was first excavated by James Mellaart from 1961 to 1965 and since 1993 has been excavated by British archaeologist Ian Hodder. I will concentrate on the site and review the material evidence for agriculture and domestication at the site with the goal of identifying which of the previously described theories it best fits.Vir Gordon ChildeIn the late 1920's and early 30's, Vir Gordon Childe put forth the first, widely accepted, explanation of the transition of people from nomadic gatherers to sedentary agriculturalists in the Near East. Childe saw agricultural development as one of the dividing points in history because it resulted in vast cultural and economic change, so he focused on explaining human development in terms of agricultural and urban changes. His aim was to find the causes of these "revolutions" (Childe 1965:67) Childe developed his "Oasis Theory" to stand as an explanation for the Agricultural Revolution (Childe 1965:67) It was a climatically based theory, which, in essence, stated that around 10,000 years ago when the ice caps receded and the rains left, desiccation resulted in the Near East (Childe 1965:67). This reduced the sources of food for man. The remaining oases, which...

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