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Why did people start farming?

 
 
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 04:49 pm
So, why did people start to farm? You see, they are not that healthy compare to their nomadic counterpart of the same period. What is the evidence? The evidence is found from their bones that they don` t have good diet, and are malnutrition compare to their foraging, and nomadic counterpart. Any solutions? I know a couple, but it is always nice to get a discussion going.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 11,909 • Replies: 40
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thack45
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 05:19 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
I've never heard that farming is less healthy than not farming. Are you saying that hunter/gatherers were generaly more healthy than agricultural people or that farming specificly is not healthy?
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 05:43 pm
@thack45,
thack45;174397 wrote:
I've never heard that farming is less healthy than not farming. Are you saying that hunter/gatherers were generaly more healthy than agricultural people or that farming specificly is not healthy?



That is what i said. It is true, if the book i read is correct.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 05:54 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
Why did people start farming?

They got tired of chasing herds?
TuringEquivalent
 
  0  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 06:20 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;174401 wrote:
Why did people start farming?

They got tired of chasing herds?



What would they eat if they stop hunting for food? If the option is between farming, and hunting. Hunting is the better option. You have to work more harder by farming, and there is good evidence that most farmers are malnutrition. Why the hell is your answer so not relevant? Perhaps you think the question is simple, which makes you wrong. What the hell is wrong with you? Never mind.
Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 06:55 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;174415 wrote:
What would they eat if they stop hunting for food? If the option is between farming, and hunting. Hunting is the better option. You have to work more harder by farming, and there is good evidence that most farmers are malnutrition. Why the hell is your answer so not relevant? Perhaps you think the question is simple, which makes you wrong. What the hell is wrong with you? Never mind.


It was a joke.

I don't think they went from following herds to rolling out fields of seeds. It was probably done in steps. They discovered seeds and planted them and when they came back around the following year they harvested the plants while at the same time still following the herds. Repeat this process enough times and you could actually get to a point when you could wait for the herd to come to you. Or pen them up and wait for your farm to harvest.
jeeprs
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Jun, 2010 07:09 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
actually I studied this very topic in prehistoric anthropology. I can't remember all the details, but wheat farming started because in the act of going out and cutting wheat and bringing it back to camp, you would end up dropping a lot of seed. So it naturally followed that around the camp, or settlement, after some generations, a lot of wheat would tend to appear. The other thing that happened is that those varieties which tended not to loose a lot of their seed content while being carried would be the ones more likely to proliferate. So this was the accidental origins of selective breeding.

I think it would have been a large step from having a lot of grain growing in a particular place, to actual tilling of the fields. In fact I think the archeological evidence for the latter puts that at much more recently, like less than 6,000 years ago.

It all sprang up in the vicinity of the 'fertile crescent', the land around the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, I think around 7-15 000 BC, the so-called 'cradle of civilization'. Although there were very ancient settlements in the Indus river valley as well.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 12:27 am
@TuringEquivalent,
plus I got a High Distinction for the essay....
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:33 am
@Krumple,
Krumple;174424 wrote:
It was a joke.

I don't think they went from following herds to rolling out fields of seeds. It was probably done in steps. They discovered seeds and planted them and when they came back around the following year they harvested the plants while at the same time still following the herds. Repeat this process enough times and you could actually get to a point when you could wait for the herd to come to you. Or pen them up and wait for your farm to harvest.


What if they come back, and some other people, or animals eat the plants?! This is obviously bad for the group of N people that planted the seed! What is a solution? The group need to have a chain of commend, and security guards! The guy on top of the commend( priest?) tell K men to stay behind to guard the field, and after some T time , the N-K men comes back. What can go wrong? The K men that left behind don` t have any food. If they use the plant as food, then they will have to wait for the seed to become a plant, but it might take too long, or too short. If it is too short, why the rest of N-K men go? If too long, then would the K men that stay starve to dead?

What is a solution? Suppose, then N-K people go for not too long, and the plant don` t take too long to grow! That way, N-K bring the meat for the K people to eat, and the K people guard the wheat for the N-K people to have bread? what do you think?



---------- Post added 06-08-2010 at 02:44 AM ----------

jeeprs;174432 wrote:
actually I studied this very topic in prehistoric anthropology. I can't remember all the details, but wheat farming started because in the act of going out and cutting wheat and bringing it back to camp, you would end up dropping a lot of seed.


...but if they already settle at some place, then they most likely know farming, and what seed they need. This presuppose the thing that we need to explain! What did people started to farm if there where no farming before.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 05:00 am
@TuringEquivalent,
Farming grew out of the fact that some plants and animals began to be domesticated, long before there were actual farms, as such. There was a lot of early 'proto-farming', if you like.

The researchers did vast amounts of archaeology to get this data, examined all of these ancient fire-sites, and so on. I can't remember all the research I read on it but they worked out which strains of wheat became domesticated first, and theorized about it, etc. It is based on empirical data, it is not a philosophical proposition.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 05:49 am
@jeeprs,
I thought it was due to the increase in the population. Less land required for farming, than is required for hunting and gathering. The only place it has survived is where the land could not sustain agricultural pressure. In hunter gather communities the population is fixed, it cant expand. Even in hunter gatherer groups they farm to a certain degree. Captured animals are kept alive for hard times and so domestication develops.
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 06:52 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;174598 wrote:
Farming grew out of the fact that some plants and animals began to be domesticated, long before there were actual farms, as such. There was a lot of early 'proto-farming', if you like.

The researchers did vast amounts of archaeology to get this data, examined all of these ancient fire-sites, and so on. I can't remember all the research I read on it but they worked out which strains of wheat became domesticated first, and theorized about it, etc. It is based on empirical data, it is not a philosophical proposition.




Well, the experts have good evidence of the date, time and places of some early farmings. I agree with all of these evidences. What the experts in the field don` t know, and is still asking is 'why people start farming'. The difficulty with this problem is that farming don ` t occur in similar ways in many different parts of the world. Thus, the reason for the topic of this thread. I did my research. If i don`t know, i would not start this thread.


Also, it is not clear to me why people domesticated the dog, and suddenly wanted to farm. They can breed the dog to hunt other animals.

---------- Post added 06-08-2010 at 07:55 AM ----------

xris;174621 wrote:
I thought it was due to the increase in the population.


The experts say that population increase is due to farming, so farming cannot be explained by an increase in population, because there is no food to feed the population.
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 08:07 am
@TuringEquivalent,
Farming gives man a certain amount of control over his food supply. It's easier to harvest when there is a lot of it in one spot, rather than having to hunt and gather it. When man learned to irrigate, he was less exposed to drought risks.

As for the nutrition issue, farming depletes the soil of nutrients so the food harvested from it has less nutrients, as well. The problem is compounded when the same crop is planted on the same plot year after year. If man didn't immediately know about fertilization and crop rotation, that could render a field completely dead in just a few generations.

Still fertilization and crop rotation are just stop gap measures really. It takes 1000 years for nature to build one inch of topsoil. Soil mineral content is also depleted through farming and is difficult to replace.

A crop that is well taken care of can yield less nutritional value. For example: grass that is grown in tougher, dry conditions has higher nutritional value to livestock than grass that is pampered and watered regularly. Hawaiian cattle raisers learned that cattle could starve to death in a field of lush grass.


Modern corn has less nutritional value than its "wild" counterpart. It was selectively bred to grow fast and big. The cost of that fast production is increased starch content and less protein. Cattle fed on a diet primarily of corn product will die. But they go to slaughter anyway.

Bottom Line: Farming is all about controlling the food supply. Remember that.
josh0335
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 08:44 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;174637 wrote:
I did my research. If i don`t know, i would not start this thread.


If you know, could you share the answer?

Farming is far easier than hunting, no? It's more reliable too. Food harvested from farming can be stored and used during winter.
0 Replies
 
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 08:46 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;174390 wrote:
So, why did people start to farm? You see, they are not that healthy compare to their nomadic counterpart of the same period. What is the evidence? The evidence is found from their bones that they don` t have good diet, and are malnutrition compare to their foraging, and nomadic counterpart. Any solutions? I know a couple, but it is always nice to get a discussion going.


People were forced into farming. The evidence is this. As you mentioned, earlier farmers were smaller and less healthy than their nomadic counter-parts. Also, agriculture sprang up in many places simultaneously. This means that the knowledge of agriculture was probably already widely available but it wasn't until a certain point in time that everyone suddenly had to put it into use. Most likely, very few people wanted to be farmers but for whatever reason, food shortages, population explosions, etc, societies suddenly needed a lot of food produced by fewer people.
0 Replies
 
Emil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 09:04 am
@TuringEquivalent,
This is not philosophy. You should use a science board for such things as you will get better answers there.
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 09:46 am
@Emil,
Emil;174679 wrote:
This is not philosophy. You should use a science board for such things as you will get better answers there.


Honestly, philosophy is more than metaphysics, logic, and epistemology. This is a question that would be asked in philosophical anthropology. Someone such as Lewis Mumford would have been interested in this question due to its importance on human interaction. It is also a valid question for social philosophy, as well, considering how foundational agriculture and horticulture have been to civilization.

A science board would be guaranteed to offer better answers than the one that Emil provided, but that isn't really saying anything. But in general, a philosophy forum is better for the why questions. Not to mention, its not like most of the membership around here is stuck in some kind of philosophical la-la land where they have never been interested in incorporating other subjects into their worldview.

But since this question is not meant to be scientific, I moved it to the social philosophy subforum.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 12:40 pm
@Theaetetus,
I know from localised studies, the population out grew the natural resources and game became scarce or even extinct. They had to turn to farming. Think about it , imagine your seeing the game disappear and more and more neighbours are taking what you need. From the easy, take what you require, to the work for what you need, is not a human desire but a necessity. This is philosophy, understanding mans natural inclination to take the easy route, till necessity forces us to labour.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 12:58 pm
@xris,
xris;174730 wrote:
I know from localised studies, the population out grew the natural resources and game became scarce or even extinct. They had to turn to farming. Think about it , imagine your seeing the game disappear and more and more neighbours are taking what you need. From the easy, take what you require, to the work for what you need, is not a human desire but a necessity. This is philosophy, understanding mans natural inclination to take the easy route, till necessity forces us to labour.


Yes and also you could take steps to try and domesticate animals for food as well. If you don't have to run around chasing after your dinner, you can spend more time in on spot. You run into fewer difficulties if you stay in one spot because you can make better shelters for seasonal changes. Illnesses can be taken care of easier. A whole lot of life is easier if you don't have to follow your food around.
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:14 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
There is one key thing that farming allowed, and that is slavery and forced labor. When people began to farm their food, it was far easier to produce excess than to find it, and it allowed people in power to force large amounts of people to submit to their will. So really, in essence, agriculture allowed concentrated human population, and it also key figures in history to harness large amounts of power.

Of course, this may not be so much of a why did people start farming, but rather why people started having slaves.
 

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