The Agricultural Transformation by Dan Hillel

free essayOne of the articles of Dan Hillel entitled “The Agricultural Transformation” can be found in his book Out of the Earth: Civilization and the life of the soil. This article concentrates on the role of the Agricultural Transformation in the humankind’s history. The author shows the preconditions of the transformation, its course of events, and consequences. It appears that this phenomenon had changed all aspects of human life.

First, I realized the significance of the Neolithic Revolution, which is another name for Agricultural Transformation. The essence of this process became clear to me after reading. I understood that the real meaning of this revolution consisted in the successful domestication of suitable plants and animals. Hence, people received a better food supply, attachment to land, and larger organized communities. All these factors contributed to population growth and better production.

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Second, I realized that people made the transitions from nomadic lifestyle to settled life for particular reasons. On the one hand, when the population increased, the carrying capacity of the habitat was exceeded and thus, the people had to find new solutions to the problem. On the other hand, the increase in human population and development of different tools and techniques could have improved ancient hunting leading to depletion of the food supply. Some authors indicate the change of climate as one of the reasons for such a shift (Ashraf & Michalopoulos, 2011). Our ancestors chose agriculture when they felt a need for that and received the conducive local conditions. Otherwise, they would not wish to change their traditional mode of life as gatherers and hunters.

Third, I learned about the advantages and disadvantages of both lifestyles. It occurred to me that nomadic lifestyle had a certain appeal to its followers. Its advantages included easier and healthier life compared to permanent farming. Besides, hunting and gathering ensured rich and varied diet. Moreover, when people constantly changed their location, they prevented the incidence and spread of contagious diseases. Nevertheless, this lifestyle had certain disadvantages. In particular, it forced people to constantly wander over the countryside looking for eatable plants and animal prey. On the contrary, sedentary lifestyle did not make people roam from place to place. Due to the domestication of plants and animals, it provided the farmers with a good diet rich in nutrients. Furthermore, this lifestyle ensured better conditions for childrearing.

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Next, the transformation in different regions of the world was quite similar. Farming was irreversible and would occur eventually as a successive step in civilization development. As many generations of humans enriched their common knowledge through observation and oral tradition, they should have culminated in some change. A similar transformation occurred at different stages in such places as Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Americas (Hillel, 1992). These transformations took place independently but brought identical results.

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In addition, the transformation influenced social structure. It affected the family structure and the roles of men, women, and children. With households that required constant attention, everyone was engaged in watching over crops and domestic animals. At the same time, private property that appeared at that period affected the distinction between the classes. Behavioral standards appeared for efficient coexistence of different classes. Accordingly, society as well as its relationship with the environment became more complex.

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Finally, I realized that this transformation has had a profound impact on the way people live nowadays. It made a revolution in human mind back then, and people chose sedentary lifestyle that modern society adores. Neolithic success of agriculture led to urbanization in ancient Mesopotamia. Urbanization is one of the hallmarks of the modern civilization. Thus, without agricultural transformation, present day lifestyle could have looked completely different.