Why do farmers use hand tools

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What grows where and how

  • Cereal crops are essential for human nutrition

At some point in human history, the development of agriculture and sedentarism seemed inevitable. In any case, we now know at least half a dozen regions on earth (Middle East, Indus Valley, etc.) in which animals were domesticated and various plants were bred and cultivated independently of one another. This led to a better food supply, but also fundamentally changed the social order. A nomad hardly develops a deeper relationship with his immediate environment, he leaves it all too soon. A sedentary person, however, lives in a territory that has to be defended against others. It is quite possible that in this phase of human development the concept of personal property played a greater role for the first time.

The upheavals in the human way of life and in social culture were so significant and drastic that the change from the hunting to the rural way of life around 11,000 years ago was called the "Neolithic Revolution" and marked the beginning of the Neolithic.

The climatic changes at the end of the last ice age, which had the planet firmly under control for many millennia, were certainly a prerequisite for the change. When the glaciers began to retreat around 12,000 years ago, the earth gradually became wetter and warmer. The retreat of the ice also made things easier for the hunters and gatherers because they had more game available and were able to collect a larger number of roots and berries. Therefore the population numbers surely also increased. Perhaps it was this increase in population that gave the impetus to sedentarism and the start of agriculture. Because many more people can be fed by growing grain than by hunting. The cultivation of plants also makes people, assuming favorable climatic conditions, more independent of the randomness of their environment. Hunting game is not always available in the same amount, and large areas have to be searched in order to find enough wild plants.

With settling down, it was also worth building better dwellings that did not have to be dismantled or abandoned every season. This enabled the community to be better protected against climatic influences or even against hostile tribes. Once a reasonably reliable food supply was ensured, the way was clear for an extensive division of labor. While some members of the society were responsible for the production of agricultural goods, others took care of the construction of houses or shacks and storage rooms. Tool making, sewing clothes or stockpiling possibly became more and more the craft of specialists.

But life should not have been all too easy for the first rural cultures. The few testimonies that we have of Neolithic people from this period also prove the negative consequences for their health. The average height decreased and the number of diseases increased, possibly also as a result of the closer coexistence in the ever larger groups. The sedentary lifestyle also meant that it was no longer so easy to move to other areas at unfavorable times. On the other hand, it was now possible to store supplies that did not have to be carried with you all the time, not only of food, but also of tools and ceramics.

Wild grasses, roots and fruits have always been used by humans. The principles of propagation in these plants were certainly familiar to our ancestors. Nevertheless, it was a big step to sow seeds specifically for these plants, the products of which could only be used much later. First of all, this method goes hand in hand with not using the grains immediately. In order to be able to plant and harvest successfully, forward-looking planning is necessary, after all you need a part of the harvest for the next sowing, which cannot be used even in times of need.

Archaeologists discovered the first evidence of agricultural methods in the area of ​​the "Fertile Crescent". This is the name of the region that stretches in a wide arc from the Persian Gulf in the east through southern Turkey to Israel in the west. The conditions here were ideal for growing grain 11,000 years ago. Grains from Anatolia and Syria are known to be 10,500 years old. If you first used wild grain, you began very quickly to select those plants that showed more of the desired properties. Breeding had started, first with the plants and later with the animals.