THANK THE FARMER
This rice field in southern Senegal grows a crop that was domesticated
in China, then spread around the tropics and sub-tropics.
root crop manioc was domesticated in South America and is now a staple
in Africa, where this woman sorted her harvest
The hamlets of pre-agricultural Natufians ranged between 2,000 and 5,000 square meters. After domestication -- just a couple of hundred years later -- villages were 10 times as large, Bar-Yosef says -- the first urban sprawl...
But how, exactly, was agriculture invented? The archeological record is silent on this score, but Bar-Yosef credits a lone inventor -- a Natufian Thomas Edison. Innovation, he says, "always starts with one individual who invents a machine or an improvement. I think [agriculture] started in one village."
But ag didn't stay local for long, Bar-Yosef speculates, since a resident of a nearby village would quickly realize that "Uncle is right" and start copying him.
In subsequent years, farming moved east and west from the Levant, into the rest of the Fertile Crescent, an area that would eventually house the Sumerians, who invented writing, and the empires and religions of the Middle East.
Did you hear the one about the first Danish ham?
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