The Neolithic (or ‘Agricultural’) Revolution is a label that is placed on the period of time starting from around 12,000 years ago, where there was a transition within many human cultures from a lifestyle of nomadic hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and permanent settlement, allowing the ability to support an increasingly large population. Such a change allowed for cities and civilizations to grow, and as crops and animals could now be grown, farmed, and experiment with, the global population boomed. This is shown from around five million humans roaming the earth 10,000 years ago, compared to more than seven billion today.
When looking at the factors which caused such a transition and what led people to take up farming, there is variety of reasons which vary throughout the world. These include climatic changes at the end of the last Ice Age in the Near East, which brought conditions that favoured annual plants like wild cereals. As well as this, in East Asia, increased pressure on natural food resources may have forced people to experiment with agriculture in order to find home-grown solutions to their lack of food. Within the dynamic of such civilizations which grew due to the revolution, villages were usually run by a council of elders, composed of the heads of the village’s various families, of which some had a chief elder as a single leader.
Although such a revolution had many obvious great benefits, the seasonal change in temperatures which reduced the number of crops available for growth caused warfare between such villages, which also allowed for the rise in power of great warriors, who eventually took over from the elders in heading a village. Not only was the rise in agriculture influential in increasing food resources, but it also aided in the creation of social classes and new farming technologies. Aside from this, through the settlement of groups in the fertile valleys of the Nile, the Yellow and Indus Rivers, and the Tigris-Euphrates, the great civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and India also developed, thus paving the way for the course of history that we famously recognise today.
Genetic studies also show how goats and other livestock accompanies the westward spread of agriculture into Europe, helping to revolutionize the Stone Age society. This also helped humans to develop a lactose tolerance that allowed them to stomach raw cow milk, which the prehistoric populations weren’t able to. Therefore, without the Neolithic Revolution, society, and life as we know it today, would be unrecognisable to us.