Agricultural Revolution

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In the field of archaeology, there is a term for the practice of living in one place.  It is called sedentism.  Sedentism and the development of agriculture go hand in hand with what is known as the Agricultural Revolution.

The Agricultural Revolution began approximately ten thousand years ago.  It is thought to have begun most prominently in the Middle East, in what is known as the Fertile Crescent.  The first crops grown by man are thought to be wheat and barley.  See this timeline of the events of the Agricultural Revolution here.

In Comparison to the Hunter-Gathering That Occurred Previously
Prior to the Agricultural Revolution, all food was obtained by hunting and gathering.  Humans, and before that, our primate-like ancestors, moved over a particular territory searching for whatever food happened to be available.  This lifestyle involved large amounts of movement, walking, and carrying heavy objects.  However, in recent human history, we have a much different lifestyle.

In the context of genetic history, humans have been farming for only a fraction of our existence.  From the beginning of primate history 65 million years ago, all primates fed off of the land from the fresh food that was available to them.  In contrast, the process of farming has been in existence for about 10,000 years.  To understand just how recent the development agriculture is, consider this:  the period of agriculture is 0.00015% of primate evolution.

Sedentism and the Agricultural Revolution Brought Other Changes, Such as the Domestication of Animals
Another landmark change that happened during this period of time is the domestication of animals.  Cattle, dogs, camels, oxen, chicken and sheep were some of the first animals that were domesticated.  These animals were used not only for food, but also were quickly adapted into use to aid in the production of crops.  As a part of being domesticated, these animals drastically changed their lifestyle and physical compositions as well.

Change in Health Status After the Agricultural Revolution
Archaeological research has shown that the health of humans during the period of the agricultural revolution actually declined.  Some of the changes noted were a decrease in height, a decrease in bone quality, and an increase in infections.

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