What Were the Changes Brought by the Agricultural Revolution?
The agricultural revolution brought many, basic changes. Man no longer lived nomadic life as a wanderer, following the migratory habits of animals, risking his life in the chase. He now remained in the same place, perhaps for many generations, built a permanent home, and became a neighbor to his fellows instead of a tribal competitor.
Once settled, he created communal meeting places, villages, and cities, where he could bring the produce of land to trade for the work of artisans who made implements and farming tools. It was a new type of culture for the former wanderers, a life that kept him in closer contact with his fellows. There was another change in the basic life of man with his development of agriculture.
As the cities increased in size, and became filled with people who were not food-producers, the need for a larger food supply arose. Farms had to be extended, and new lands prepared for the plough. Inevitably, this expansion led to conflict with neighboring cities that were expanding on their own.
Civilization was the product of the Agricultural Neolithic Revolution. In the course of history, civilization coincided in space with fertile areas (The Fertile Crescent) and most intensive state formation took place in circumscribed agricultural lands (Carneiro’s circumscription theory). The Great Wall of China and the Roman limes demarcated the same northern frontier of the basic (cereal) agriculture. This cereal belt nourished the belt of great civilizations formed in the Axial Age and connected by the famous Silk Road.
Ancient Egyptians, whose agriculture depended exclusively on the Nile, deified the river, worshipped, and exalted it in a great hymn. The Chinese imperial court issued numerous edicts, stating: “Agriculture is the foundation of this Empire.” Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, and Inca Emperors themselves plowed ceremonial fields in order to show personal example to everyone.
Ancient strategists, Chinese Guan Zhong and Shang Yang and Indian Kautilya, drew doctrines linking agriculture with military power. Agriculture defined the limits on how large and for how long an army could be mobilized. Shang Yang called agriculture and war the One. In the vast human pantheon of agricultural deities there are several deities who combined the functions of agriculture and war.
As the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution produced civilization, the modern Agricultural Revolution, begun in Britain (British Agricultural Revolution), made possible the Industrial civilization. The first precondition for industry was greater yields by less manpower, resulting in greater percentage of manpower available for non-agricultural sectors.