The Neolithic Revolution: How Farming changed the World

Whenever we think of famous revolutions, the two that normally pop into our heads are the French and American Revolutions, mostly because they are responsible for the political and intellectual landscape that dominates the world today. Both of these revolutions are also credited for ensuring that every person enjoys comparative freedom and liberty. But neither of those two revolutions or indeed any other revolution would have been able to take place, if not for the one that truly changed the world beyond all reckoning, the Neolithic revolution.

Starting from around 12,000 years ago, human beings made their first conscious attempts to both control and adapt natural evolution to suit their own needs. It started with the beginnings of what we now call farming, the artificial breeding of animals and the intensive growing of particular plants, or crops, for food.

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The Beginnings of Human History, Society, and Culture

When does human history begin? If we seek help from anthropology, then we find that the first animals of the homininans appeared in Africa around 6 million years ago and the first Homo sapiens appeared 600,000 to 200,000 years ago, also in Africa. From this perspective, we are all descendants of mother Africa. The dates of this first appearance the sequence of species that arose over time is a constant state of flux as scientists uncover new fossil evidence.

The earliest homininan is australopithecus whose mind and biology may have been very similar to the modern bonobo ape. Australopithecus are found only in Africa.

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The Human Story – From Hunter-Gatherers to Farmers

Since the emergence of Homo erectus 2 million years ago, humans remained hunter-gatherers till 10,000 years ago. During this long period of 2 million years, humans learned to tame fire, hunt, make better stone tools, and explore new territories. Homo erectus originated in Africa and scattered around other continents. The dispersal of Homo erectus was not a result of mass migrations, it was a slow process which happened over thousands of years as small bands shifted to new territories. It must have taken such a band to reach China from Africa 20,000 years. Homo erectus evolved into various other Homo species at different places, for example, it evolved into Neanderthals in Europe. In Africa, it evolved into Homo sapiens around 200,000 years ago.

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Neanderthals live on in Human Ggenes — how they shaped us?

Understanding our ancient ancestors may help us better address health risks today.

By understanding more about these prehistoric people, we can learn about who we are as a species today. Our ancestors’ experiences shaped us, and they may still hold answers to some of our current health problems, from diabetes to depression.

We don’t know how many species of humans there have been, how many different races of people, but the evidence suggests that around 600,000 years ago one species emerged in Africa that used fire, made simple tools from stones and animal bones, and hunted big animals in large cooperative groups. And 500,000 years ago, these humans, known as Homo heidelbergensis, began to take advantage of fluctuating climate changes that regularly greened the African continent, and spread into Europe and beyond.

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How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain.

Fossils established the Brain Boom as fact. But they tell us next to nothing about how and why the human brain grew so large so quickly. There are plenty of theories, of course, especially regarding why: increasingly complex social networks, a culture built around tool use and collaboration, the challenge of adapting to a mercurial and often harsh climate — any or all of these evolutionary pressures could have selected for bigger brains.

Although these possibilities are fascinating, they are extremely difficult to test. In the last eight years, however, scientists have started to answer the “how” of human brain expansion — that is, the question of how the supersizing happened on a cellular level and how human physiology reconfigured itself to accommodate a dramatically enlarged and energy-guzzling brain. “It was all speculation up until now, but we finally have the tools to really get some traction,” said Gregory Wray, an evolutionary biologist at Duke University. “What kinds of mutations occurred, and what did they do? We’re starting to get answers and a deeper appreciation for just how complicated this process was.”

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The Cultural power of Tacit Knowledge: Inarticulacy and Bourdieu’s habitus

Tacit knowledge, or knowledge that is inarticulate or unarticulated, lies at the heart of all cultural life, and is exercised in dull and repetitive activities that constitute the heart of daily existence. It seems without much character or importance, but this is precisely why tacit knowledge can be the unruly trickster in culture. Inarticulate actions based on tacit understandings of cultural possibilities can bypass discursive reality, trouble cultural categories and elaborate cultural imaginaries that are not captured in words. It is knowledge that is never quite enough, always addressing emergent problems that are not finally solved but worked around. We know from the social construction of reality that social actions are not set in stone and can be transformative, but we also know that thought can be constrained within regimes of discursive common sense. Inarticulate repetitive actions that on the surface seem mindless can actually facilitate shifts in culture by following their own material logics and imaginaries beyond discursive common sense, becoming what Deleuze calls repetitions that make a difference. Improvisatory social activity can provide escape routes from discursive regimes and make possible new social constructions of reality. The routine breakdowns and absurdities of mute, everyday cultural practices, demonstrating the limits of common sense, can encourage people to improvise new actions that break with recognized discourse (like the Occupy movement or Arab Spring). Participants respond to political ideas that feel wrong or dishonest by exploring practices of participation that feel

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Stone Age

From the dawn of our species to the present day, stone-made artifacts are the dominant form of material remains that have survived to today concerning human technology. The term “Stone Age” was coined in the late 19th century CE by the Danish scholar Christian J. Thomsen, who came up with a framework for the study of the human past, known as the “Three Age System”. The basis of this framework is technological: it revolves around the notion of three successive periods or ages: Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age, each age being technologically more complex than the one before it. Thomsen came up with this idea after noticing that the artefacts found in archaeological sites displayed regularity in terms of the material that they were made with: stone-made tools were always found in the deepest layers, bronze artifacts in layers on top of the deepest layers, and finally iron-made artifacts were found closest to the surface. This suggested that metal technology developed later than stone-made tools. This “Three Age System” has received some criticism. There are scholars who believe that this approach is too technologically oriented. Others say that this stone-bronze-iron pattern has hardly any meaning when applied outside Europe. Despite the critics, this system is still largely used today and, although it has limitations, it can be helpful as long as we remember that it is a simplified framework.

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Chauvet Cave

The Chauvet Cave (also known as the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave) is a Palaeolithic cave situated near Vallon-Pont-d’Arc in the Ardèche region of southern France that houses impeccably preserved, exquisite examples of prehistoric art. Now reliably dated to between c. 33,000 and c. 30,000 years ago, the numerous and diverse animals that dot the interior walls of the cave – both painted and engraved – show such high artistic quality that they were initially thought to have been closer in age to the similarly stunning, but much younger art in caves such as the Lascaux Cave. Its age and artistry have made us reconsider the story of art as well as the capabilities of these humans. The cave has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Read also: Lascaux Cave

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Prehistoric Hunter-gatherer Societies

Hunter-gatherer societies are – true to their astoundingly descriptive name – cultures in which human beings obtain their food by hunting, fishing, scavenging, and gathering wild plants and other edibles. Although there are still groups of hunter-gatherers in our modern world, we will here focus on the prehistoric societies that relied on the bounty of nature, before the transition to agriculture began around 12,000 years ago. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers often lived in groups of a few dozens of people, consisting of several family units. They developed tools to help them survive and were dependent on the abundance of food in the area, which if an area was not plentiful enough required them to move to greener forests (pastures were not around yet). It is probable that generally, the men hunted while the women foraged.

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Ancient Greek Science

By careful thinking based upon observation, some ancient Greeks realized that it was possible to find regularities and patterns hidden in nature and that those regularities were the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe. It became evident that even nature had to obey certain rules and by knowing those rules one could predict the behaviour of nature. Observation was eventually undervalued by the Greeks in favour of the deductive process, where knowledge is built by means of pure thought. This method is key in mathematics and the Greeks put such an emphasis on it that they falsely believed that deduction was the way to obtain the highest knowledge.

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