What Was The Neolithic Revolution?

The Neolithic Revolution, also known as the Agricultural Revolution, occurred about 12,000 years ago. For those, like me, who are not the best at math, that is around 10,000 BCE. There was a global trend away from nomadic hunting and gathering and towards sedentary farming. It appears to have arisen independently in multiple places in the Middle East, as well as in China and Papua New Guinea. Egypt and the Indus River Valley may have independently developed agriculture as well, or gotten the idea and the seeds from the Middle East or China.

Cereals, like barley in the Middle East and rice in China, were likely the first to be domesticated, eventually supplemented by protein-rice plants like peas and lentils. As people began to settle down they also domesticated animals. The earliest archaeological evidence of sheep and goat herding comes from around 10,000 BCE in the Iraq and Anatolia. Animals could be used as labor in the fields, or as sources of additional nutrients and calories to supplement the new cereal-heavy diet.

The Neolithic Revolution did not happen everywhere, and not all at once. And there remain a variety of hypotheses as to why humans stopped foraging and started farming. Population pressure may have caused increased competition for food and the need to cultivate new foods; people may have shifted to farming in order to involve elders and children in food production; humans may have learned to depend on plants they modified in early domestication attempts and in turn, those plants may have become dependent on humans. Whatever the reason, the Neolithic Revolution changed humanity -- and our world -- for good.

A Few Fun Facts About Tilapia

Tilapia has been farm-raised as far back as ancient Egyptian times. Tilapia are ideal for farming because they reproduce quickly, eat pretty much anything, don't mind overcrowding, and can live in any type of water. However, "tilapia" isn't just a species of fish -- it is a genus, and there's over 100 species in it!

The genus name itself is from the Tswana word "tlhapi" or "fish," which was Latinized to "thiape." (Tswana is the national and majority language of Botswana.)

When Pigs Ate Fish

About 5,000 years ago, on Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, wild boars were enjoying an unusual diet. Isotope analyses of wild board remains revealed that they were eating fish and other marine animals. The only way they could have gotten access to such food, researchers think, is if humans were deliberately feeding the boars seafood.

Why would they do that? Perhaps they used marine resources to domesticate the boars, a useful source of meat if they can be made tamer. Note that 5,000 years ago is before the agricultural revolution reached Denmark. So the locals were attempting animal domestication before they had adopted domesticated plants.

A Re-Imagining of Prehistoric Imagination

From 14,000 to 10,000 years ago, as the last Ice Age ended and the glaciers retreated, the natural world changed very rapidly around our human ancestors. Tundras were becoming grasslands and forests. Cold-climate animals, like the reindeer herds humans had come to rely upon for food, were retreating north with the ice. Our human ancestors had to adapt. This transitional period in northwest Europe is called the Azilian, and archaeologists distinguish it by rapid changes in tool types and art. The preceding Magdalenian was renowned for its murals. This is when Lascaux and Altamira were painted. The Azilians who followed are known mainly for the small pebbles they painted with red spots and abstract geometric designs. The Azilian, traditionally, was seen as a major rupture from the artistic tradition of the Magdalenian that came before.

But a recent find it challenging this archaeological tradition. Recent re-discovery and re-analyses of old archaeological finds in Brittany and elsewhere suggest the Azilians also engraved tablets, in a manner very similar to the Magdalenians. The stone slabs depict horses and other animals, attempting realism with fine details like nostrils and coat textures. The artistry of these new finds suggest greater continuity of artistic traditions from the Ice Age than had previously been theorized, at least in some corners of western Europe.

Ancient Egyptians Tortured Suspected Criminals To Get Confessions

And they thought this was the good way to get truthful confessions. So they were honest about the torture, and recorded exactly how officials tortured suspects when questioning them. For instance, during the 16th year of the rule of Ramses IX (~1100 BCE), a well-organized network of tomb thieves were uncovered in Thebes. The thefts were from prominent government officials and even royal tombs. During the resulting interrogations, the accused were beaten with a stick and their hands and feet were twisted.

According to the records, the torture worked! They confessed to breaking into tombs, including a royal burial, and stealing precious objects. When the tombs in question were examined, several had indeed been disturbed, confirming the confessions.

Around the world today, there are roughly 440 living languages which are descended from Indo-European. More than 300 belong to the Indo-Iraninan branch which includes Urdu, Bengali, and Romani. That diversity is a hint of where the mother tongue came from: probably closer to India than to Europe. Although the area between India and Europe is large, so that's not too definitive.

First Denisovan Skull Fragments Found

Two fragments of a Denisovan skull have been found at the famous Denisova Cave! Mitochondrial DNA extracted from the surprisingly thick pieces of braincase was used to confirm that they belonged to a Denisovan. These are the first known remains of a Denisovan skull. Its exciting for multiple reasons. It allows us to guesstimate how large their brains were, compare their evolution to the Homo family tree, and perhaps help understand why they no longer exist today.

A reconstruction of the skull was compared to 112 modern Homo sapiens skulls, and 30 stone-age Homo skulls including Homo sapiens and Neanderthals and interestingly, the Denisovan skull did not quite fit in with any previously-known Homo species' skulls. More will be known as further analyses are carried out and, hopefully, additional Denisovan remains are found!

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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