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The Oasis Theory, originally proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by V.

Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe's book Man Makes Himself. This theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were then domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because subsequent climate data suggests that the region was getting wetter rather than drier.
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agriculture coinciding with an increasingly stable climate at the beginning of

The History of Agriculture is Revisited

It is generally accepted that the history of agriculture began more than 10,000 years ago. But, without written records, the historical evolution of agriculture can only be reconstructed through conjectures or deductions using logic. These deductions are based on anthropological and arhaeological evidences rather than scientific facts. Examples of these evidences are artifacts of ancient farming tools and remnants of wild grain. It is believed that the transformation from huntinggathering to agriculture occured gradually after a long period of time. According to Went and The Editors of Life (1963), the early development of agriculture involved first the management of wild grains and other useful plants by removing adjacent weeds. It is also possible later that a primitive tribe may have discovered a vigorous plant; the seeds were harvested for food, but some were deliberately sown to ensure supply for the next season. Several theories were advanced to shed light on the history of agriculture. Wikipedia (2010) lists and describes six theories on its origins: oasis, hilly flanks,feasting model, demographic, evolutionary or intentionality, and demographic theories. 1. Oasis Theory. Proposed in 1908 by Raphael Pumpelly, an American geologist and explorer, this theory is predicated on climatic change as the basis of the start of agriculture. Due to dry spell, both humans and animals converged close to oases. It was there that animals were first domesticated (put under the management of man) and seeds were planted. However, this theory finds opposing views because climatic data does not support it. 2. Hilly Flanks Theory. This was proposed in 1948 by Robert Braidwood, an American archaeologist and anthropologist who did work in Turkey. This theory, popularized by V. G. Childe in his book "The Most Ancient Near-East" (1928), argues that the likely beginning of agriculture is an upland location with frequent rainfall so that crops can be grown without the need of supplying irrigation water. Also called Propinquity Theory (Hirst n.d.), it postulated that agriculture started in the hilly flanks of the Tauros and Zagros mountains. Further, Hilly Flanks refers to the wooded lower slopes of these mountains that make up the western peripheries of the Fertile Crescent where ancient Sumer was located.

The Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, and fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication.

The Feasting model by Brian Hayden


suggests that

agriculture was driven by ostentatious displays of power, such as giving feasts, to exert dominance. This required assembling large quantities of food, which drove agricultural technology.

The Demographic theories proposed by Carl Sauer


and adapted by Lewis Binford


and Kent

Flannery posit an increasingly sedentary population that expanded up to the carrying capacity of the local environment and required more food than could be gathered. Various social and economic factors helped drive the need for food.

The evolutionary/intentionality theory, developed by David Rindos


and others, views agriculture as

an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans. Starting with domestication by protection of wild plants, it led to specialization of location and then full-fledged domestication.

Peter Richerson, Robert Boyd, and Robert Bettinger


make a case for the development of

3. Feasting Model Theory. Proposed by Bryan Hayden, this theory states that agriculture was the necessary result of ostentatious displays of power. By habitually throwing feasts as a means of exerting dominance, large quantities of food had to be assembled. 4. Demographic Theories. These theories were proposed by Carl Sauer (1889-1975), an American geographer. These theories postulate that the increase in human population is hampered by the carrying capacity of the natural environment in supplying food. With further increase in population, the food that the wild naturally supplies became too insignificant. According to Courses.washington.edu (n.d.), it is presumed under the population pressure hypothesis that agriculture can provide more food per unit of land. (Click here to read land:man ratio for subsistence by natural way). 5. Evolutionary/Intentionality Theory. This theory on the history of agriculture was proposed by David Rindos and other scholars. It describes agriculture as a form of coevolutionary adaptation of humans and wild plants. It started with the mere protection of wild plants and progressed until their domestication improved. According to courses.washington.edu (n.d.), the coevolution hypothesis proposes that the proximity of humans to wild species would result to man's manipulation of the species' environment causing genetic changes that favors reproduction. 6. Domestication Theory. This theory was proposed by Daniel Quinn and other scholars. It states that humans first settled in particular areas where they abandoned their nomadic ways of finding food, then they practiced agriculture and animal domestication. However, these theories on the history of agriculture are mere proposals or personal arguments. Whichever of these theories is finally proved as a fact, if ever, is hard to tell. Just exactly where and when the history of agriculture first started is likewise impossible to establish. Again, this is due to the absence of written records of the life and history of the primitive man. While it is generally believed that the history of agriculture has its root in the Fertile Crescent (read also Cash Crop Farming) , such is founded upon archaeological artifacts such as the plow and harvesters sickle found in Sumer. But the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) seems to have been domesticated first in Asia about 10,000 years ago (Hirst n.d.). Furthermore, excavation at the Ohalo site in Israel that was abandoned by Stone Age fishermen and

hunters about 20,000 years ago revealed remnants of cereal grains (Krause 2001). Nonetheless, after considering Vavilovs (1926) 8 centers and others centers of origin of cultivated plants, Oregon State University (n.d.) provides the following possible origins of selected major crops: 1. Near East (Fertile Crescent)- wheat and barley, flax, lentils, chickpea, figs, dates, grapes, olives, lettuce, onions, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and melons; fruits and nuts.
2. Africa- Pearl millet, Guinea millet, African rice, sorghum, cowpea, Bambara groundnut, yam, oil palm, watermelon, okra. 3. China- Japanese millet, rice, buckwheat, and soybean. 4. South-east Asia- wet- and dryland rice, pigeon pea, mung bean, citrus fruits, coconut, taro, yams, banana, breadfruit, coconut, sugarcane. 5. Mesoamerica and North America- maize, squash, common bean, lima bean, peppers, amaranth, sweet potato, sunflower. 6. South America- lowlands: cassava; midaltitudes and uplands (Peru): potato, peanut, cotton, maize. REFERENCES courses.washington.edu. n.d. Origins of agriculture. Retrieved February 5, 2011 from http://courses.washington.edu/anth457/agorigin.ht m. HIRST KK. n.d. Domestication history of the bottle gourd. Retrieved September 1, 2010 from http://archaeology.about.com/od/bterms/qt/bottle_g ourd.htm. HIRST KK. n.d. Oasis theory. Retrieved February 5, 2011 from http://archaeology.about.com/od/oterms/g/oasis.ht m. KRAUSE L. 2001. Galilees receding waters reveal stone age camp. Retrieved February 5, 2011 fromhttp://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001 /01/0102galilee.html. OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY. n.d. CSS world food crops: centers of diversity, crop adaptation. Retrieved September 1, 2010 from http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/css/330/two/in dex.htm#content. WENT FW, THE EDITORS OF LIFE. 1963. The Plants. NY: Time Incorporated. p. 160. WIKIPEDIA. 2010. History of Agriculture. Retrieved September 1, 2010 from

Human Factors Labour: All farms need either human labour or machinery to do the work. Some farm types use very little labour, e.g. sheep farming. Others require a large labour force, e.g. rice farming in India.

Physical Factors Climate: Temperature a minimum temperature of 6C is needed for crops to grow. The growing season is the number of months the temperature is over 6C. Different crops need a different growing season, e.g. wheat needs 90 days. Rainfall all crops and animals need water. Relief: Temperatures decrease by 1>C every 160 metres vertical height. Uplands are more exposed to wind and rain. Steep slopes also cause thin soils and limit the use of machinery. Lowland areas are more easily farmed. Soils: Crops grow best on deep, fertile, free-draining soils, e.g. the brown earths

machinery and animals. This is known as feedbackwithin the farming system.

found in lowland Britain. Less fertile soils prone to water logging are best used for pastoral farming. Aspect: The direction a slope faces. South-facing slopes are best for growing crops.

Tradition: Farmers may have always farmed in a certain way and be unwilling to change.

Politics: Government may provide subsidies and loans to encourage new farming practices but they may also place limits on production to prevent food surpluses, e.g. quotas and set-aside in the European Union.

Market: This is the customer who buys farm produce. Farmers need to sell their crops and animals to make a profit. Perishable crops such as soft fruits fetch a high price, but need to be grown with a short travelling distance of the market.

Finance: Profits are used to pay the wages and to reinvest in the farm, e.g. buying seeds, fertiliser,