On the Creation of Argiculture

blog solarpunk

published 2022-11-13 19:29

updated 2022-11-13 19:58

I often hear the tale of the invention of farming as something like "One day, in ancient civilization, nearly pre-history, someone figured out that the seeds of the fruit they were spitting out, would sprout in the same spot in the rubbish. They figured out if they planted seeds, and cared for them, they could harvest the fruit", or some other nonsense. I think it's much more likely that even pre-homo sapien humans knew that seeds sprout. We've probably been eating sprouts since before history! The difference between agriculture and pre-agriculture civilizations isn't knowledge of seed sprouting, it's access to land with a high availability of fresh water! I wish I had the anthropological knowledge to back up my claims here (since I am completely making this up on the spot), but I would require extraordinary evidence to change my opinion (or y'know a reasoned opinion of any authority on the matter).

I think it's part of a larger problem with how pre-agriculture life is presented to people in the present. This assumption that once agriculture was unlocked it was immediately believed to be the correct path, and all humans who were even remotely smart for their time decided agriculture is how to do civilization. It's the right way to exist. Fuck no. "We" probably knew about sprouting seeds and growing plants fairly early on. Just like we understood animal reproduction as well. The problem was we probably couldn't give plants the required attention they need when doing agriculture, since nobody stuck around for the fruit to bloom. It's possible we found spots that were good for specific kinds of plants, and planted them there for later years, letting nature take care of itself.

In fact (as in, I totally made this up), it is only through the invention of civilization (laws about ownership of land, rulers who dictate the laws, and soldiers to protect the land and crops), that agriculture became viable. How else could one justify the comparitivly extreme amount of effort one had to go through in order to produce enough crops to feed the civilization? Agriculture had to have been previously known technology!

Anyways I hope you're convinced by my totally made up argument; early humans already knew about agriculture before any "civilizations" existed. They're so strongly correlated that what we consider civilized is having a culture dependent on agriculture for it's energy needs. This is wrong. Humans must have known about agriculture well before written history begins. Though it is important to remember those people were still Civilized. They cared for their sick, they kept one another safe, they shared food. These are the important aspects of civilization. Not the technology that ultimately is leading to the destruction of the planet.