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"Neolithic Revolution"

The first agricultural revolution--transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and settlement. (12,000 years ago)--tropical and subtropical areas of southern Asia, northern/central Africa and Central America.


Strategies such as burning, transplanting, and weeding employed to encourage the productivity of certain plant or animal species.


Intensive tending of a plant species to enhance or ensure production (i.e. clearing fields, preparing soil, weeding, watering, etc.)


Changes in the physical characteristics of a plant or animal species caused by human manipulation. Species generally become dependent on humans.


Obtaining food from intense use of previously domesticated plants and animals. New relationship with environment--smaller amounts of land; long term changes in structure/organization of societies.

Wild vs Domesticated Plants

Domesticated are attached better to the stock and have higher protein content, more/larger seeds, more brittle glume (seed coat), stronger rachis (what holds seeds to the stem).

Wild vs Domesticated Animals

Domesticated animals tend to be smaller, dumber, less aggressive and fatter, easier to control. Wild animals are larger, more lean, larger horns, and aggressive.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Agriculture

Compared to foraging populations early agriculturists have higher levels of infection, chronic malnutrition, more anemia, shorter lives, increased warfare and violence and leisure time. But, they have increased fertility and population growth.

Theories of Agricultural Origins

Environmental change--disruption in food supply.
Gradual intensification--more intensive use of particularly attractive resources.
Population pressure--population cannot be supported by key local resources, populations too high to move.
Social theories--achieve social prestige through the accumulation of surplus food.

Evidence of Domestication

Mortar and pestle, prehistoric maize cobs from Coxcatlan Cave, Teotihuacan Valley.
Earliest evidence of Maize: San Andes Cave, ca. 5,000 BC (grain pollen).

Social Inequality

Trade networks, varying burial treatment of dead architectural hierarchy, distribution of resources etc.

Achieved and Ascribed Status

Achieved status you earn, ascribed status is something usually given (hereditary rule)

Sources of Inequality

Economic dependence, control of long distance trade luxuries, differential access to subsistence resources, privileged access to divinities/supernatural, differential mortuary treatment, protection from conflict.

Materialization of Inequality

Settlement plan, distribution of exotic goods, access to subsistence resources (sot rage, diet, nutrition), and differential mortuary treatments.


A political unit


Cultural construct, societies sharing basic cultural values, beliefs, practices, across broad geographies.

Challenge of Urban Centers

Irrigation, sustenance, policing

State Level Societies

Irrigation, roads, trade goods, social classes, bureaucracy

Origins of State Level Societies

Urban revolution-leaders and classes of specialists
Ecology and irrigation-irrigation of rich floodplains
Technology and trade-markets
Warfare-conquest, larger political units
Multi-causal theories-multiple processes working together
Social theories (power)-economic power, religious power, prestige, political power, authority etc

Collapse of State Level Societies

Characterized by the dispersal of a population from a previously densely populated area. Caused by drought/climate change (environmental), soil degradation (agriculture), war/conquest/invasion/civil disputes (foreign entity), (economic).


Native American Grave Protection & Repatriation Act (1990): protective graves from being harvested as research. Previously dug graves were supposed to be replaced to their tribes.

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