World History 1 24 - 2.3 The Neolithic Revolution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the Neolithic Age
  • Explain the consequences of the Neolithic Revolution
  • Describe Neolithic settlements around the world and their significance

From the time Homo sapiens emerged and for tens of thousands of years afterward, members of the species lived a life of hunting and gathering, much as their distant ancestors had. Then, about twelve thousand years ago and for reasons that remain imperfectly understood, some modern human populations adopted agriculture. This means they transitioned away from existing on merely the sustenance nature provided. Instead, they began actively promoting the growth and eventual transformation of crops, and later the domestication of animals, to provide themselves with the resources they needed. This shift in strategy inaugurated the Neolithic Age.

The birth of agriculture triggered a host of additional changes in the way humans understood land, the way they organized socially, the amount and forms of wealth they could acquire, and even the religious traditions they practiced. Not everyone made the leap to farming, however. Plenty of hunter-gatherer societies avoided transitioning into a settled agricultural life, either because the new strategy wasn’t practicable in their environment or because for them the costs outweighed the benefits. Yet those groups that did become agriculturalists experienced a degree of population growth and labor specialization that ultimately allowed for the establishment of a number of sophisticated Neolithic settlements.

The content of this course has been taken from the free World History, Volume 1: to 1500 textbook by Openstax