Agriculture & Cultural Diffusion

Farming was a major invention along the path to modern civilization. Like most innovations, the technology developed in one or two areas, then spread quickly. The process of the spread of technology is called diffusion. Agriculture was developed in what is now Turkey about 12,000 years ago. Evidence of the technology in what is now Hungary, Egypt and Sumer can be dated to before 7,500 years ago. Within 500 years, however, it had spread to what is now Paris,  the Ukraine, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and many other areas.

After 9500 BC the eight founder crops of agriculture appeared: emmer and einkorn wheat (the first grain to be farmed), hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas and flax. A sickle (see pic) was a curved, hand-held agricultural tool typically used for harvesting cereal crops or cutting grass for hay. The inside of the curve contains a serrated cutting edge used the cut through the base of the crop.      

The need for additional food sources after a drier climate increased the need to farm. Additional food allowed larger numbers of people to exist in a community. The emergence of farming as a job, enabled others to pursue other work rather than focus on securing food. The diversity of occupations provided better for the community’s needs.

In some areas, the spread of agriculture with similar crops was accompanied by similar houses, stone technology and pottery. Scientists initially believed that this diffusion was probably associated with a mass migration of farmers who replaced the hunter-gatherers. Recent DNA studies indicate, however, that the mitochondrial DNA changed only slightly at the advent of the new technology. This would indicate that the migration had not been a mass migration but perhaps a smaller number of individuals migrating and bringing the technology with them. As the scientists say, more study is needed.  

Tomorrow, A Related Technology Emerges.  Rita Bay

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