« back to encyclopedia search results
Agriculture; in early and prehistoric times
It's now thought that man went through four stages of agricultural development. 1. Being a hunter/gatherer. 2. Domesticating, then herding some animals to fit in with normal nomadic life. 3. Early farming - based on primitive grasses such as 'Einkorn Wheat' (Triticum Monococcum) and barley (Hordeum Spontaneum) - both were cultivated around 7000BC around the area of what is now the border of Iraq and Iran. Peoples living in this area and around Palestine certainly possessed sickles. Further East there is evidence that various types of beans, peas and water chestnuts were grown, in what is now Northern Thailand, at about the same time. There is evidence that pumpkins and other squashes were cultivated in Central America, also around 7000BC. In what is now Britain, dogs were domesticated (probably to aid hunting) as early as 7500BC. A skeleton has been found, implying this, at Star Carr in Yorkshire, while pigs and cattle were domesticated in Greece by 6000BC. 4. The village was the next step. Because of a warmer and more settled climate, crops could then be sown and harvested, while living in the same base. This probably didn't happen in Northern Europe until between 3000 and 2000BC, possibly 2,000 years later than Southern Europe. A grain called 'fat hen' (Chenopium Album) was certainly cultivated by Iron Age man.
Indeed, Iron Age technology meant that stronger iron plough heads coulddig deeper and enabled heavier soils to be cultivated.