Carl Sagan who is an American astronomer once said, ‘you need to know the past to understand the present.” That is how the importance of studying history reveals. In most of the cases, the past is the key to the present. We need to understand how our ancestors dealt with their lives to know how we should deal with ours because history always repeat itself. As Stephen Fry said, ‘How can we understand our present or glimpse our future if we cannot understand our past? How can we know who we are if we don’t know who we were? History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier.’ To understand our identity, we need to understand how it is shaped through times in history. Humans in the earliest civilizations made many decisions. We don’t know some of them because there weren’t any written records, but we do know many of them. Farming was one of these huge decisions that the earliest human beings took. However, the shift from hunter gatherer lifestyle to farming lifestyle was a huge mistake because it led to inequality between men and women, the appearance of different social classes, unhealthy lifestyle.
The Agricultural revolution had many negative consequences that affected the early human beings’ lives. Among the consequences of the change from hunter gatherer pattern to agricultural pattern were the formation and prevalence of the new and unequal relationships between men and women. When humans were living on hunting the animals, and foraging the plants, there were equal gender roles. For instance, they usually combine in small groups to make it easy to move more frequently in search of wild animal and plants, and they didn’t have a big family that consists of many members. In “WCIV” the writer showed the women’s roles, “Women also have been mainly responsible for taking care of young children, but there would have been fewer of these than in later times. With no easily digestible cereal or milk foods available, children would have had to be breast-fed until they were old enough to eat adult food. As the main providers of food, and with few children to take care of, women probably enjoyed much the same status and power within the hunting and gathering bands as men did.” The responsibility of the household and family was divided equally between men and women.
There was no dominance of men over women because both were the suppliers of food. Agricultural revolution changed the tasks that both men and women were performing. Men for the first time in history became the breadwinner of the family. He became responsible for domesticating animals and the supply of plants as well. The children food was provided such as cereals and milk. Therefore, women gave birth more often, and that led to a steep increase in the population. The families got bigger in number of members, and women spent more time in looking after her children. Women’s tasks centered on the household’ work, taking care of the children, and cooking the food. The women who shared the same power and status as men before farming couldn’t do that anymore. In WCIV, the writer indicates, “This change, in turn, obligated women to concentrate on tasks that could be accomplished in and around the home and that could be combines looking after young children.
Tasks that required distance from the home for any length of time came to be done mainly by men.” Since the men are the main suppliers of food for the whole family, he became the main decision making, and he tried to control the women. In WCIV, the writer indicates, “Since it was the women who ultimately produced the children, it was their behavior that most needed to be surveyed and controlled both by themselves and also by men.” That is how the male dominance showed up in these civilizations, and it never ends till now.
We still suffer from the inequality between men and women nowadays in many work fields. A man and a woman may work in the same job, but the man is paid more money than the woman. One of the negative consequences that accompanied the Neolithic revolution was the hierarchy. There was a huge disparity in wealth and status among the communities. In WCIV, the writer said, “among the consequences of the agriculture revolution was the growth of hereditary differences of wealth, status, and power within communities.” Before the agriculture revolution, the lands belong to nobody. The hunter gatherer moves frequently through many lands to find animals to hunt and plants to gather. If the land didn’t have animals or plants, they would leave it and go to another land. No one owed the lands back then. Therefore, there weren’t any difference in financial status because they all have a partly same standard of living. When farming started, some people became land owners and hire others to work for them. Some of them became wealthy and had a prosperous life while others didn’t possess that amount of prestige and wealth.
Many expressions started to show up such as, social ranks, high-ranking people, and low-ranking people. These social ranks showed significantly in the “Code of Hammurabi.” As Charles F. Horne describes Hammurabi as, was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world’s first metropolis. Many relics of Hammurabi’s reign have been preserved, and today we can study this remarkable King as a wise law-giver in his celebrated code.” Hammurabi wrote some of the laws in a 2.25-meter stone stele, they were one of the earliest written records. Some of the laws were really biased and it favored the high-ranking people.
For instance, he said, “If a physician makes a large incision with an operating knife and cure it, or if he opens a tumor with an operating knife, and saves the eye, he shall receive ten shekels in money. If the patient be a freed man, he receives five shekels. If he be the slave of someone, his owner shall give the physician two shekels.” It is so obvious how the price of the cure differs depend on the social ranks. Before farming, there weren’t any kind of hierarchy, slaves, high-ranking people. They were all a free people who were trying to live a good life. Hunter gatherer lived a better and more healthy lives than they did after the farming.
They had a healthy lifestyle than we do today. According to Jared Diamond, “While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a better balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen’s average daily food intake was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It’s almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s.” Diamond indicates how the hunter gatherers’ lifestyle of eating was healthier and rich in proteins. In contrast, people after farming lost this way of living. They didn’t keep up with the diet they were doing anymore.
In “food and diet in ancient Mesopotamia” the writer said, “The ancient Mesopotamian menu is one of the best known of antiquity. The basic diet of an ordinary person consisted mostly of plant products, with only about 10 percent derived from animals, usually domesticated ones. The members of the elite, because they had access to luxury foods, could have a substantially higher proportion of animal products, including milk and milk products and eggs in their diet.” This shows how much their way of living provided them with a good diet and a good health. Farming gave them a variety of food that harmed their health is some ways that the natural food that come from the mother nature would have never done. To sum up, farming may have done good things for people as it taught them new skills and technologies to tame animals, cultivate plants, and convert a poor land into a land that has massive amounts of crops and harvest.
However, it harmed the humans’ lives in many other ways. It evoked the inequality between men and women, and it formed the social stratification that divided people into higher, middle, lower ranks or classes. Farming didn’t provide us with a healthy life that would have stopped many of the diseases that we are suffering from such as heart diseases, diabetes, and obesity.