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UNIT 4: Agricultural and Urban Revolutions

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Agriculture, Pastoralism, and Complexity

Although historians have long tended to view the transition to agriculture as a story of "progress," life in agricultural societies was often more difficult and more labor-intensive than in foraging and gathering societies. This segment examines the story of the "agricultural revolution" in terms of both its costs and its advantages for humans.

On the cost side, raising crops required far more energy than foraging — which usually only took a few hours each day — and also resulted in a less varied diet than in foraging communities. The same is true for the domestication of animals, which required larger amounts of energy than hunting wild animals because of the time required for penning, watering, and protecting tame herds.

On the advantage side, however, it is clear that agricultural societies were able to produce more food in smaller areas — which over time enabled them to support larger populations. Aided by technological innovations in metallurgy and pottery-making, these larger populations, in turn, allowed agricultural societies to expand into new regions.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Hot Pepper Studios, EARLY AGRICULTURE SITES WORLD MAP (2004). Courtesy of Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Anonymous, EARLY MAIZE COBBS - TEHUACAN VALLEY (n.d.). Courtesy of the Robert S. Peabody Museum of Archaeology, Philips Academy, Andover, MA.


John R. Poss, MAYAN MAIZE GOD (n.d.). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Art Department CSULA.

Anonymous, CAVE ART WITH STAG AND REINDEER FOUND IN LASCAUX, DORDOGNE, FRANCE (n.d.). Copyright 2003 Oregon Public Broadcasting and its licensors. All rights reserved.



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