Ancient Agriculture


by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011
Threshing of Grain in Egypt (The Yorck Project Gesellschaft für Bildarchivierung GmbH)

Identifying an exact origin of agriculture remains problematic because the transition from hunter-gatherer societies began thousands of years before the invention of writing. It isn't until after 9,500 BCE that the eight so-called founder crops of agriculture appear: first emmer and einkorn wheat, then hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas and flax. These eight crops occur more or less simultaneously on sites in the Levant, although the consensus is that wheat was the first to be sown and harvested on a significant scale.

By 7000 BCE, sowing and harvesting reached Mesopotamia and there, in the fertile soil just north of the Persian Gulf, Sumerians systematized it and scaled it up. By 6000 BCE farming was entrenched on the banks of the Nile River.

In Europe, there is evidence of emmer and einkorn wheat, barley, sheep, goats and pigs that suggest a food producing economy in Greece and the Aegean by 7000 BCE. Archaeological evidence from various sites on the Iberian peninsula suggest the domestication of plants and animals between 6000 and 4500 BCE. Céide Fields in Ireland, consisting of extensive tracts of land enclosed by stone walls, date to 5500 BCE and are the oldest known field systems in the world.

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Visual Timeline
  • 10000 BCE
    Beginnings of agriculture in the Middle East.
  • 9000 BCE
    Wild sheep flocks are managed in the Zagros mountains.
  • 9000 BCE
    Cultivation of wild cereals in the Fertile Crescent.
  • 7700 BCE
    First domesticated wheats in the Fertile Crescent.
  • 7000 BCE
    Domestication of goats.
  • 7000 BCE
    Plant cultivation in North America.
  • 6700 BCE
    Domestication of sheep.
  • 6500 BCE
    Domestication of pigs.
  • c. 6500 BCE
    Cultivation of peas in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • c. 6000 BCE
    First irrigation.
  • 6000 BCE
    Domestication of cattle.
  • c. 6000 BCE - 2900 BCE
    Neolithic Age settlements in Greece, beginning of agriculture. .
  • 5200 BCE
    Domestication of chickens in China.
  • 5000 BCE
    Irrigation and agriculture begin in earnest in Mesopotamia.
  • c. 5000 BCE
    Cultivation of peas in Europe.
  • 5000 BCE
    Organised farming begins in Egypt.
  • 5000 BCE
    Villages arise in China around the Yellow river. Terraced farming begins and rice is cultivated.
  • 4500 BCE
    Invention of the plow.
  • 4000 BCE
    Use of wool for textiles.
  • 3500 BCE
    Farming has spread across Europe.
  • 3000 BCE
    Domestication of alpacas and llamas in the Andes.
  • c. 3000 BCE
    Potatoes are grown in the Andes.
  • c. 2700 BCE
    Corn is first cultivated in Mesoamerica.
  • 2000 BCE
    Domesticated horses introduced in Mesopotamia.
  • 1500 BCE
    Pastoral farming spreads across Eurasian steppes.
  • 1345 BCE
    The world's first manual on training horses is written by the Mitanni horse trainer Kikkuli (found in Hattusa).
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