10
   

Why did people start farming?

 
 
chad3006
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:32 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;174749 wrote:
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.



Farming creates many by-products and I suppose slavery is one of them.
0 Replies
 
Ding an Sich
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:42 pm
@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.


1. Get a time machine.

2. Go back to when the first farms appeared.

3. Ask those farmers why they are farming.

4. Travel to the present.

5. Write about it and make lots of money (that is, if you havent already made enough money from the time machine patent).

Good day
Krumple
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 01:55 pm
@Ding an Sich,
Ding_an_Sich;174768 wrote:
1. Get a time machine.

2. Go back to when the first farms appeared.

3. Ask those farmers why they are farming.

4. Travel to the present.

5. Write about it and make lots of money (that is, if you havent already made enough money from the time machine patent).

Good day


Already done, it's called archeology.
0 Replies
 
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 05:53 pm
@chad3006,
chad3006;174658 wrote:

Bottom Line: Farming is all about controlling the food supply. Remember that.


but the question is not 'why farmer is better than hunting'. The question is 'why people start to farmer when there is no farming before?'.

---------- Post added 06-08-2010 at 06:59 PM ----------

josh0335;174672 wrote:
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.


Expert say farming is more harder than hunting, or foraging. Farmings sucks if you are the original farmers. They don` t even have a good diet. They are malnutrition for god sake.
0 Replies
 
mister kitten
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 06:00 pm
@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.


Farming was necessary for the growth of civilizations.
Hunter/gatherers roamed and could not sustain as big of a population as farmers could. They could not sustain such a population because their method was to go after their food; to migrate where their food went. Farming helped to stop that roaming because the crops don't move (hopefully Smile). With a set place for the people to grow crops, people did not need to rely solely on hunting to feed the entire population-and because of that the populations grew.
TuringEquivalent
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Jun, 2010 06:01 pm
@mister kitten,
Reply to all of you after today. I am a slow poster.
0 Replies
 
stevecook172001
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 05:18 pm
@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.

I have a story to tell you. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence for it being a true story. But, it can't be proved. So you must make of it what you will.....

The end of the last ice age left a catastrophic landscape. The first form of life to colonise such a landscape is always the wild grasses. These are an unusual form of plant life in that they invest all of their energy in seeds. This is unlike other plant life which has a more conservative portfolio of investments such as roots, bark etc. However, the grass's strategy pays off in catastrophic landscapes because it means they get to be first movers in colonisation terms. After a while, though, the grasses add humus to the soil and so provide the necessary environment for the perennials to start to proliferate. Eventually these are followed by shrubs and, finally, trees. This has the effect of pushing the grasses back to the periphery.

At the end of the last ice age when the grasses became widespread, humans, with preposterously large brains happened to be on the scene. We seem to have simultaneously and independently, around the globe, figured out that if we tamed these wild grasses and farmed them, we would no longer have to hunt and gather quite as much. However, as the OP has pointed out, relying on farming alone initially seemed to produce less fit humans and so the question arises of why we went so fully and comprehensively down this route.

I think the answer lies in the existence of surpluses once farming came into being. Farming allows you to produce more than you need. This means that you have something to trade with that you don't need yourself but which you can exchange for things that you do need (or want). And so, in all likelihood, began the growth of tertiary and secondary products and services.

Now, humans are like all other forms of life and are genetically hard wired to maximise profit and minimise losses. In other words, get the most for the least effort. At around the time of the beginning of farming it was inevitable that some bright and ruthless individuals would figure out that if they went around in a gang and obtained, by threats, say 10% of the surplus of others they would probably get away with it. The reason being that if someone threatened my life and the life of my family for the sake of 10% of my surplus, I would probably make the judgement that it was worth losing that 10% given the high potential cost of refusal compared to the relatively small loss of compliance.

However, these 10 percentds added up and, pretty soon, these small ruthelss gangs of extortionists had amassed huge surpluses when compared to any individual. At this point they were able to consolidate their positions of relative wealth and power by being able to afford to raise armies, build organisational infrastructure etc.

At which point direct barter became cumbersome and so an abstract exchange value item inevitably became a functional neccesity. The beginning of money in other words. Once that innovation happend the rest is, quite literally, the history of civilisation. This is the point at which farming is likely to have begun to be done on a civilisation scale. The fact that it may have produced less nourishment for many of the people involved is rather besides the point of it. The point being that it served very well indeed the interests of the small gang of ruthless b*stards who were now in charge

Those people have been in charge, more or less, ever since.

The history of farming = the history of civilisation = the history of the rule and exploitation of the many by the few.
reasoning logic
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 05:46 pm
@stevecook172001,
stevecook172001;175141 wrote:
I have a story to tell you. There is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence for it being a true story. But, it can't be proved. So you must make of it what you will.....

The end of the last ice age left a catastrophic landscape. The first form of life to colonise such a landscape is always the wild grasses. These are an unusual form of plant life in that they invest all of their energy in seeds. This is unlike other plant life which has a more conservative portfolio of investments such as roots, bark etc. However, the grass's strategy pays off in catastrophic landscapes because it means they get to be first movers in colonisation terms. After a while, though, the grasses add humus to the soil and so provide the necessary environment for the perennials to start to proliferate. Eventually these are followed by shrubs and, finally, trees. This has the effect of pushing the grasses back to the periphery.

At the end of the last ice age when the grasses became widespread, humans, with preposterously large brains happened to be on the scene. We seem to have simultaneously and independently, around the globe, figured out that if we tamed these wild grasses and farmed them, we would no longer have to hunt and gather quite as much. However, as the OP has pointed out, relying on farming alone initially seemed to produce less fit humans and so the question arises of why we went so fully and comprehensively down this route.

I think the answer lies in the existence of surpluses once farming came into being. Farming allows you to produce more than you need. This means that you have something to trade with that you don't need yourself but which you can exchange for things that you do need (or want). And so, in all likelihood, began the growth of tertiary and secondary products and services.

Now, humans are like all other forms of life and are genetically hard wired to maximise profit and minimise losses. In other words, get the most for the least effort. At around the time of the beginning of farming it was inevitable that some bright and ruthless individuals would figure out that if they went around in a gang and obtained, by threats, say 10% of the surplus of others they would probably get away with it. The reason being that if someone threatened my life and the life of my family for the sake of 10% of my surplus, I would probably make the judgement that it was worth losing that 10% given the high potential cost of refusal compared to the relatively small loss of compliance.

However, these 10 percentds added up and, pretty soon, these small ruthelss gangs of extortionists had amassed huge surpluses when compared to any individual. At this point they were able to consolidate their positions of relative wealth and power by being able to afford to raise armies, build organisational infrastructure etc.

At which point direct barter became cumbersome and so an abstract exchange value item inevitably became a functional neccesity. The beginning of money in other words. Once that innovation happend the rest is, quite literally, the history of civilisation. This is the point at which farming is likely to have begun to be done on a civilisation scale. The fact that it may have produced less nourishment for many of the people involved is rather besides the point of it. The point being that it served very well indeed the interests of the small gang of ruthless b*stards who were now in charge

Those people have been in charge, more or less, ever since.

The history of farming = the history of civilisation = the history of the rule and exploitation of the many by the few.



I very well may be wrong but it does seem reasonable to me that it started some what that way. At least the corruption part and the evil rulers.Smile
0 Replies
 
bionic gypsy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 06:52 pm
@TuringEquivalent,
i was impressed by a few answers.
i enjoyed the one about wild fields accidentally grown from loose seeds and becoming a part of the nomads trek.
i enjoyed the proposition that simple population problems invented farming.
i enjoyed the answer that farming was either coincidental for possessing slaves, or a tool for possessing slaves.
i really enjoyed the answer about gang extortion.

these are all plausible answers and don't really contradict one another.

i think turing equivalent is stuck on the question of how human psyche and personal morality are related to our ancestors personally deciding to make a choice in regards to their living situation. this outlook will taint cognization the subject because it presupposes a particular outlook and a particular "anticipation" of an answer.

it excludes an emergent answer. and it neglects the fact that we are creatures developing in time to an ever more powerful state (not personal power, but just magnitude)

turing equivalents answer is based off of an assumption and incompatible with many reasonable answers. if he were to allow the accidental but necessitous nature of Nature's development, then we can breathe much more easily and enjoy philosophy much more.
0 Replies
 
westwind
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 01:52 am
@TuringEquivalent,
Because they found farming was more reliable than hunting and gathering.
0 Replies
 
dadpad
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 03:39 am
why people started farming.

Try this experiment.

Take 100 seeds, drop them on the ground. Do not chase away the birds and small animals that eat the seeds. Make sure you drop it in a place where other plants are growing. How many grow?

take another 100 seeds drop them onto an area has been cultivated and where weeds are removed. Instruct women and small children to chase away small animals and birds. How many grow?

another reason
Farming is much safer than hunting.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 04:06 am
@TuringEquivalent,
Quote:
You see, they are not that healthy compare to their nomadic counterpart of the same period.

You're placing these early humans in the realm of understanding and scientific literacy and that they would have understood the differences between the nutrition gained from their hunting and gathering diets and from the nutrition gained from their new discovery of farming when you expect them to understand the science of nutrition way before the institution of science and nutrition even existed.

Plus the nomadic lifestyle of these people and their possible population growth at the time possibly couldn't be sustained on the hit and miss that was the dependence on the health and population of the herd they were following.

It's possible that the agricultural revolution allowed for a greater sense of food security for the community as a whole. After awhile, when one group chases a herd long enough, it is possible they ended up causing the extinction of said herd and just inevitably ran out of food.

And because it's published in book form doesn't necessarily mean it's an accurate or noteworthy thesis. Can you at least supply the author's name and the title of the book? Does the author have any legitimate scientific credentials? What is the scientific world's reaction to these statements (was the book peer reviewed)? Has the book been through the ringer of mainstream media book reviews? Etc....
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 04:06 am
The bullshit in this thread seems very deep to me. I refer you to Jared Diamond, who asserts, based on references which he provides, that agriculture appears about 10,000 years ago. Two signal points he makes are that in both areas in which it appears (the northern part of what we call China and in the area we now call the Middle East) there was an abundance of game animals and of forage plants, allowing for the abandonment of a nomadic hunting lifestyle.

I don't for a moment buy a contention that hunter-gatherers had a better diet, it neither stands to reason nor is it confirmed by archaeological evidence of which i am aware. The Israelis have found archaeological evidence of both early modern man and of Neanderthals in Palestine at the dawn of agriculture. The Neanderthals arrived after early modern man, and relied primarily on hunting. Their diet was much less diverse than that of the early modern men among whom they dwelt.

If you don't have to follow game herds (and according to Diamond, this was the case in both the Middle East and in China), you expend a lot less energy for the food you obtain. Tens of thousands of years ago, and in climactic conditions in the periglacial regions where early modern humans congregated because of the abundance of game animals, you need to store a lot of meat from the hunt to make it through the winter. In late winter, before the grass is up and ready for the grazing animals, your food stocks will be getting low, and any animals you can hunt will have burnt up their reserves of fat, making them yield much less nutrition. In historical times, aboriginal people who have followed a hunter-gatherer lifestyle have been seen to lose the elderly, the infirm and the less than completely healthy young at that time of year.

If what Diamond claims is true, about the abundance of game in the Middle East and in China, then this would have worked a revolution in the lifestyle of early modern man. They could have remained in one place to get their game, and would have had much more leisure and energy to obtain forage by gathering. Agriculture, regardless of the mechanics of the enterprise, is facilitated by the end of a nomadic lifestyle, and the consequent health of the population is preserved in circumstances in which they no longer need to fear the onset of winter--which in both the Middle East and northern China at that era was simply a rainy season. Ten thousand years ago, what we call climate change had made the world much warmer than it is now, and both the rain fall and the average annual temperature in those regions were higher. The domestication of plants and animals would have offered the opportunity not only for the accumulation of more food stuffs, but also the leisure time for making pottery, textiles, for wood-working and basket weaving. The advantages of agriculture and manifold, and rather obvious.

The temple societies from which slavery might have developed did not arise until thousands of years after the beginning of agriculture. Interestingly, the most recent archaeological evidence suggests that the first domesticates were figs, and not grains, pulses or animals, and that it took place in Central Asia, and in neither the Middle East nor in China. The book by Mr. Diamond in which i read his comments on the domestication of plants and animals is Guns, Germs and Steel, which for historical accuracy is more than a little shaky, so i do wonder about the accuracy of what he has to say about the domestication of plants and animals in the pre-historical.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 05:33 am
@Setanta,
One theory in the "evolutionary development of ag" was one of "Protection of plant resources within a fixed migration zone". This one seems reasonable because we know that, as a population of hunter gatherers increased, they either had to range farther and wider or elseget a sense of "Seasons" and the natural bounty presented in those areas. So migration patterns of paleoliths included the "protection" of fruit groves and sources of fruits.
It is clearly evidenced that fruits were the first ag product based upon "coprolite" (doo doo) depsits in shelters and caves where humans lived.

Seeds and grains and beans came much later since the normal carp coating of a seed is a toxic family of chemicals called LECTINS. Lectins make grains and beans unpalatable because they induce gastric distresses and vomiting. It was only when our ancestors dicovered that, when the grains were smashed and the beans cooked into submission would grains and beans become improtant crops. Stuff like einkorn and emmer and wild lentils were exploited as some of the first grain products based upon their growth areas.

PEriglacial areas especially areas around terminal moraines and side moraines were made of fairly shitty soils. In fact, these areas we still call "Barrens" where the soils are rich n packed clays or leached alkalis, also the sandy barrens of the areas behind morines are some of the baddest soils for farming. SO actually the coming together of several features were needed to folks to dip a tentative toe into population sustaining ag. SOme of these needs were:
1larger growing population to make it necessary

2 a culture of "protecting fruit trees and berries" (concept of not dumping into the groves)

3 A climate not too doused with rain so that shrubs and margin forests and grasslands abound (sorta like savannahs)

4 wild populations of specific resource plants that could be exploited

5 a concept of smashing and cooking wild grains had to be developed

6 a concept of "Storage" of bounty

7. cooking smashed grains over a Fire and storage as agricultural concepts were probably local cultural features related to people changing from hunter gatherer to ag

Edaphic (environmental ) factors conducive to growth of exploitable plant materials is a need. They actually been revisiting the "lake dweller" theory as part of the neolithic revolution or the "hillside settlements" as starting areas for ag.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A really good example of ag development can be seen right here in PA.
About 12000 to(even 20000K BP Dr Atavasio of Pitt feels that hes got evidence for 20000 year old settlements in PA) about 6000K, we had Paleo Indian tribes that milled around the periglacial areas of PA(In pA, the latest glacial advances only came as far south as Allentown). The rest of the land to the BAys were typical periglacial tundras and peat swamps with lotsa game.
AS the PAleo period began winding down into the "transitional phase", we could see the evidence of settlements in the higher ridge areas and in the more dried out areas like the limestone valleys that sweep through central PA. These areas were rich in NUTS. In Pa, the first attempts at ag were the exploitation of NUTS. The Indians then used techniques to strip bark and "girdle trees" to create plots where they could grow stuff like pumpkin (wild gourds and melons were a common wild plant), beans (ya gotme where they got beans ,Ill have to do some further research into Paleoindian cultivation of beans). A series of grain crops called Maranth and millet were common grains , easy to grow in this area. Evidence abounds from the proto Susquehannock camps along the tribs of the SUsquehanna and Ohio, that Cooking Pots, made of clay were a cultural feature that was either exchanged, traded, or self developed (I believe in the exchange of cultural features because weve seen projectile tips change remarkeably fast all over the countryside)

As the population transitioned into the "old woodland culture" Ag was clearly firmly established. Archeologists have found exampes of storage areas and bins in long house structures .Also, several of the Pallisaded "Indian Forts" of the 1000BC time pwriod were demonstrating ag practices that were quite advanced.



farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 05:46 am
@farmerman,
I had a Mind fart. The name of the archeologist responsible for the MEadowcroft Paleo Site (In W Pa) is ADAVASIO. One of my frequent misspellings. However I will try to correct names since many people will want to look this up for themselves.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Jun, 2010 05:49 am
A lot of Diamond's arguments in Guns, Germs and Steel are questionable, but he makes a good one about the spread of domesticates. Any domesticate developed in China or the Middle East could spread to the east or the west without leaving it's climactic zone (temperate to sub-tropical). But in the Americas, for domesticates to spread, they had to travel north or south, and therefore had to cross climactic zones.

Taken all in all, though, i don't think Diamond makes his case in his book, but that is because he is playing fast and loose with historical evidence about metallurgy and technological development, not about agriculture.
0 Replies
 
leeannakayy
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2014 01:52 pm
@thack45,
yes because hunting and gathering you gain more variety of food and you have to keep moving to get your source of food where as farming you stay in one place and start to rely on that one food source and Farming leads to surplus and that is how we get to our society today. It is mainly because of not having different food sources like the food pyramid. Hope that helps!
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2014 04:34 pm
@leeannakayy,
Oh, nonsense--farmers go out to pick wild fruit, to pick up nuts, to gather mushrooms, to fish and to hunt. They may not have had as much opportunity to do so, although i doubt that even that is true. There is no reason to assume that as soon as humans became agriculturalists or parstoralists that they immediately stopped eating the forage foods and the game which has previously sustained them.
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Mar, 2014 06:12 pm
@Setanta,
Rubbish. Settled agriculture was selected in by evolution because it created settled communities and middle classes and thinking and military prowess.

There is no claim that they immediately stopped eating the forage foods and the game which has previously sustained them.

Gull's eggs and grouse are still on the menu in many cases. Road kill is thought of as macho. TV feechewers often deal with bush-tucker. And most fishing is still foraging.
0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Mar, 2014 05:11 am
People started farming because it involves less work, travels and uncertainties than pure hunting-gathering. But most human groups kept hunting and gathering while they started farming. In fact, many people in Europe still hunt, fish and gather wood, mushrooms, berries and herbs and stuff. The evolution to farming was progressive, not a sudden change.
0 Replies
 
 

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