The Spread of Farming: A Fertile Crescent Practice Goes Global
by Giselle Sanchez, age 12
Many foods that we eat today were first grown in the Fertile Crescent around about 8,000 B.C.E when the practice of farming began.
In the Fertile Crescent, an area that includes parts of modern day Iraq, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, farmers grew a variety of plants. The first farmers were likely hunter-gathers, people who hunt to survive. They slowly transitioned to farming after a number of generations. Eventually, they started planting the seeds of their favorite crops. Including rice, sorghum, wheat, soy, and azuki beans.
Around 3,000 B.C.E., agriculture also began to spread throughout Central America. In 1,500 B.C.E., Central American farmers were growing corn and beans. By 1,000 B.C.E., North American farmers started to cultivate gourds, sunflowers, tomatoes, potatoes, and maize.
Because farming was a challenge during this time, farmers around the world worked to create new technologies to make things easier. For example, they made heavy axes to cut down trees in the forests. They also created millstones to grind flour and oats for bread. These are just a couple of technological advances that helped people stay in one place longer, which allowed early humans to transform fully from hunter-gathers to farmers.
The technological advances that were made were not limited to the realm of farming. The Sumerians in the Middle East mastered the art of wool spinning, as well as textile weaving with plants and animals fur. They are also attributed to the invention of pottery, which included pots, bowls and other items finished in kilns.
Blacksmiths, too, innovated. They used heat to create various items by melting copper and bronze and reforming them into tools like the flint knife, the ax-hammer, and flint arrow-heads.
Ultimately, innovations like these helped transform early humans from wandering hunter-gathers to settled farmers. Had these transformations not taken place, we could still be picking berries and hunting to survive today.
[Source: A Short History of the World]