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What Is the Neolithic Revolution?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 23, 2024
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The Neolithic Revolution is the transformation of human societies from being hunter-gatherer based to agriculture based. This period, which occurred between 12,000 and 8,000 years ago, brought along many profound changes to human society and culture, including the creation of cities and permanent dwellings, labor specialization, the baking of bread and brewing of beer, personal property, more complex hierarchical social structures, non-agricultural crafts, slavery, the state, official marriage, personal inheritance, and more. The term "Neolithic revolution" refers both to the period of time when it occurred as well as the enduring changes it caused.

Tens of thousands of years ago, there were no crops: only the primitive ancestors of the plants we recognize as being edible. After hundreds or thousands of generations of purposeful and accidental selection by human farmers, who would destroy or confiscate the seeds of plants with undesirable qualities, we domesticated strains optimized for maximum nutrition and largest yield. The so-called "Neolithic founder crops" include emmer, einkorn, barley, lentil, pea, chickpea, bitter vetch, and flax. These are all new species created by human intervention into wild ancestor species.

The use of fields for crop-growing and granaries for the storage of food simplify this whole nutrition endeavor for humans, allowing for non-farming occupations in society. Trade and barter systems emerged, as well as informal currencies. Farmers could be paid for supplying others with food. Soldiers could be trained and armies raised. The creation of personal goods and food stores meant that plundering from raiders became more common, necessitating a soldier class to protect the farmers. The Neolithic revolution was the first fundamental restructuring of human affairs seen in a couple hundred thousand years.

The Neolithic revolution first emerged in the Fertile Crescent, around present-day Iraq, which would also be the founding site of the world's first large cities, including Babylon. Mankind was most active and prosperous around the Near and Middle East at this time. Some of the oldest known human settlements were founded in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey just a couple thousand years after the conclusion of the Neolithic revolution.

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Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated InfoBloom contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon355537 — On Nov 17, 2013

By anon318605 — On Feb 08, 2013

A theory is not just a thought or idea. Those are called thoughts and ideas. A scientific theory must meet various criteria in order to qualify as such.

By anon293829 — On Sep 27, 2012

@anon69634: I do understand it and like you said, it's a theory, so it's just a thought or an idea so for me to believe in that would be plain stupidity.

I will listen to what you think is true to understand where you're coming from and your knowledge on the subject but I will never believe in it. As for me, I also believe in Jesus Christ and I will be happy to share him with you too if you're open to listening.

By anon115884 — On Oct 04, 2010

Seriously; thousands of years before Gregor Mendel, Neolithic (Stone Age) man created or cross-bred these edible grains? Read 'The Ascent of Man' by Jacob Bronoski, 1973

By anon114412 — On Sep 28, 2010

Great info for my essay! I had no idea what it was. I thought it was a war. Well, now I know!

By anon110655 — On Sep 12, 2010

Thank you it was very useful information for my test. Thanks- Anon

By anon109025 — On Sep 05, 2010

There's this notion that all happened all of a sudden, when it really took time, a long time for all things to develop. We're under the spell that it was always quick and instant as all appears to be around us, nowadays.

By anon86455 — On May 25, 2010

Thank you! This helped me organize the main ideas i needed to address in my chapter assignment. I didn't have to pick things out. Like the man below me said, short and sweet.

By anon76320 — On Apr 09, 2010

Love this site. It was short and sweet. Really helped me with my AP test studies. Thanks.

By anon69634 — On Mar 09, 2010

anon61265: believing or not you must understand the idea of evolution and its 'theory'. Although there is much proof that humans and apes have a common ancestors. They won't ask you about adam and eve in college/school.

By anon61265 — On Jan 19, 2010

Thanks a lot. This helped me a lot on my semester finals! Also to anon44363: humans did not change. Evolution is not true! We were created by the one true God!

By anon54147 — On Nov 27, 2009

this is called the neolithic revolution because it revolutionized today's way of life can be referred to by a cause and effect influence in our history.

By anon53594 — On Nov 23, 2009

Can anyone tell why the neolithic era is termed as Neolithic revolution instead of Neolithic culture?

By anon46346 — On Sep 24, 2009

Exactly what I was looking for, nice brief summary.

By anon44635 — On Sep 09, 2009

i have a lot of questions. hardly any of them were answered. this article needs more information and description.

By anon44363 — On Sep 07, 2009

Good article, but i know that what they did changed, but did humans change physically?

By anon44071 — On Sep 04, 2009

was it the neolithic revolution that started the modern civilization?

By anon43805 — On Sep 01, 2009

Great article. Well said.

By anon43122 — On Aug 25, 2009

great summary, thanks.

By anon29337 — On Mar 31, 2009

Great for a quick summary of the neolithic revolution...definitely summarizes efficiently in a short text.

By anon26764 — On Feb 18, 2009

What were the causes of the Neolithic Revolution? Why did these people suddenly stop hunting-gathering and change to farming/agriculture?

By anon18897 — On Oct 01, 2008

is the neolithic age a mistake in history? after all, this caused slavery, lowering in woman status and wars for possessions.

By anon18737 — On Sep 28, 2008

Does anyone know anything about the Agricultural Revolution around this whole time period too? its for some history project and i can't find it from around here only for the 18th century

By anon14123 — On Jun 10, 2008

This was a very good read. It helps me with my pre-test studies.

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated InfoBloom contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology,...
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