Agriculture – The Foundation of the Ancient State

In my opinion, intensive agriculture is the most important primary characteristic of a state. Really, there can be no chance of a successful state if there is no source of food. According to the lectures, the birth of agriculture took place in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East around 11,000 years ago, most likely because of how rich the soils were there. However, agriculture didn’t happen at the same time around the world; it took time for each individual ancient state to figure out a method that worked for them. The changing climate also played a major role in the emergence of agriculture. At the beginning of the Holocene Epoch, there was a mass melting of continental glaciers, and this led to the overall temperature warming up, faster in some areas than others. Some of the glacial sediment that was deposited while the glacier was melting had contributed to the possibility of planting crops in some areas.

Each of the ancient states we studied over the semester demonstrated a mastery of agricultural practices, and that is a huge reason why these states were so successful. Not only was agriculture important to feed the citizens of these states, but also some foods that were plentiful could be traded to surrounding areas for foods that could not be grown in that specific area. Agricultural practices near bodies of water would have been relatively simple because of the rich soil, but attempting to plant crops in soil that had no capability to sustain a growing plant would have been impossible. Because of this, and because of the changing climate throughout the year, farmers had to be knowledgeable in irrigation practices as well as what crop to plant and when. Irrigation is just as important as agriculture, so much that one of the theories for the emergence of ancient states is irrigation. Perhaps the most famous example of how connected irrigation and agriculture are is the Ancient Egyptians, and how they manipulated the Nile River to be able to water their crops no matter how far inland they were planted. Soon after, other ancient states either adopted the Ancient Egyptian method or came up with their own way to ensure that their crops would be watered.

It was interesting to see how much specific crops have changed thanks to modern genetic modification; for example, wheat, corn and barley used to look drastically different than they do today. Because of this, they might not be as healthy as they were in ancient times before genetic modification.

One thought on “Agriculture – The Foundation of the Ancient State”

  1. I totally agree with this. I have been thinking since the beginning of this class that intensive agriculture is the most important of the characteristics. A civilization as you said, cannot exist without a clear and constant source of food. Hunting and gathering is not always consistent because as you hunt the populations of the animals decrease and (for example) wild berries or nuts will not continue to grow if over gathered. Intensive agriculture really sets the foundation for really any civilization or state, not just the ancient ones. Intensive agriculture allows populations of people to remain stationary and begin to build homes and public buildings. I really like how you mentioned that agriculture did not happen at the same time around the world for everyone because of things such as climate/climate change, altitude etc. I also like that you brought up the fact that in all of the civilizations we studied, the people seemed to be really good at farming and agriculture. This is because it seems like the civilizations who survived were the ones who had the most food! Not only was agriculture extremely important for a stable food source, but it was also used for things like trading or dyes, which could have boosted the local economy.

    I also really liked at the end of your post how you brought up crops today and how most of them are genetically modified in some way. It is very interesting to think about how different many crops looked in ancient times, probably a lot smaller than they are today. Its odd to think that some of them as you mentioned may not even be as healthy for us anymore.

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