Growing Plants, Agriculture and Formation of New Technological Paradigms

  December 19, 2020   Read time 1 min
Growing Plants, Agriculture and Formation of New Technological Paradigms
Farming and growing food brought about a drastic change in the life skills and patterns of early humans. Wandering after food gave its place to growing different types of needed foods. This change led to the emergence of a new set of technologies and technological vision.

The first place people began growing food was the Middle East, specifically a region called the “Fertile Crescent” that stretches north along the Mediterranean from Palestine through Syria and then southeast into the hills of Iran that overlook the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. From 12,000 to 14,000 years ago, with the end of the Ice Age, the climate of this region became warmer, and grasslands expanded. Among the grasses that grew in the region were several that produced edible seeds, in particular wild wheat and barley. At first, people harvested only the wild seeds, but around 12,000 years ago, they began to sow some seeds in favored locations and then remove competing plants and water the growing crop. In short, they began to garden. Gardening could be interrupted and picked up again (unlike hunting), and it could be combined with the nursing of babies and the care of small children. At a burial site in Abu Hureya in Syria, dating to 9700 bce, the bones of women (but not of men) show malformations of the toes, knees, and vertebrae due, probably, to hours spent grinding grain on a grindstone. Women then, as later, prepared the food. The transition from planting a few seeds to supplement a diet of wild foods to depending largely on domesticated plants took 2,000 years or more. To obtain more food with less effort, these early gardeners had to select seeds through a process of trial and error. They cleared land, sowed seeds, weeded, watered, harvested their crops, and generally adapted their activities to the cycle of plant growth. They also changed their way of life, settled down in villages, and made pots in which to cook their food. Not everyone preferred such labors to the wandering life of hunting and gathering. As one twentieth-century hunter-gatherer told a visiting anthropologist, “Why should we plant when there are so many mongongo nuts in the world?” (Source: Technology, A World History).