Emergence of the Pastoralists and Agriculturalist Societies

The emergence of pastoralists and agriculturalists societies began in the Neolithic age of human development. The brain of the human being was developing hence man was able to develop crude farming tools. It enabled man to shift from hunting and gathering to farming. This essay aims to bring out how the pastoralists and agriculturalists societies emerged and the factors that led to their emergence. There are no written records between 8000 -5000 BC to explain why and how the domestication of animals and cultivation of crops began. However, climate change due to the retreat of the glacier at the end of the ice age period may have played a great role in this shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. During the picking up of cultivation simple agricultural techniques were applied to growing crops. Seed broadcasting is a notable example of this kind of farming. Intermixing of seeds was carried out to increase the resistance of the crops to diseases and also increase the yield.
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It is notable to point out that some animals were domesticated before the emergence of agriculture. Taming of these animals was done differently depending on their nature and how they interacted with humans. Take for instance the dog. It was initially a wolf that attacked and preyed on humans. It was found out that it could be tracked, trained and tamed. It proved helpful in controlling of herds especially sheep when they were taken out for grazing. Goats, sheep, and pigs were scavengers at human campsites. They were first domesticated in the Middle East in 8000 – 7500BC. Development of farming tools in the Neolithic era gave room for agriculture to take place. People began growing simple crops mostly along rivers. Different regions of the world were able to produce different crops. For instance, the earlier Neolithic villages in the Near East show their ability to process grain such as wheat and barley. It was during the same time that cultivation of millet and rice began in China using man-made floods and fires. The soil improvement techniques emerged from different parts of the world including Mesopotamia and Eastern Asia. The idea of agriculture was adopted in Europe a little later as compared to the rest of the world.  Cultivation of sunflower began in North America while South America cultivated cotton. The horse, which was initially used as a source of meat, began to be domesticated n the Eurasians steppes. After learning the effectiveness of the horse in fieldwork, the people found the need to domesticate it and take care of it. Pastoralism, on the other hand, is said to have emerged for hunter and gatherers. These people were very mobile. As a result of their continued shifting of location, they moved their animals along with them because they were well aware of their significance. The need for pastoralism emerged due to inhabitance of people in areas that could not support the cultivation of crops. This method of rearing cattle proved necessary for the people who lived in the arid and semi-arid areas. The pastoralists kept large herds of animals most of which they had captured as hunters and gatherers.

Agriculture Emergence Hypotheses

Hypotheses have been brought forward explaining the emergence of agriculture. These hypotheses are:

Inventor-Genius Hypothesis

It suggests that although agriculture is an inherent way to make a living, it only takes a rare genius to see it. It argues that there is an extreme innovation limitation the evolution of the core culture.

“Settling in” Hypothesis

“Food foragers gradually learned agriculture after they became more familiar with lower ranked resources during the “broad spectrum” revolution.”-Braidwood. This hypothesis is similar to the inventor-genius hypotheses just that the inventor is not a “rare genius” but a careful observer of the habits of plants and animals.

Population Pressure Hypothesis

This theory suggests that agriculture was born of necessity when population density reached some critical threshold. It holds that as the population gradually increased, the competition for resources also increased. Hence, there was a need to adopt agriculture to increase food production.

Climatic Hypothesis

This hypothesis argues that desiccation caused people to invent agriculture to escape famine. It suggests that as a result of the rising sea levels, people were forced to move from the coastal region to the inland. Thus, it increased the population and consequently increased the competition for resources.

Factors that led to the Emergence of Agricultural Societies and Pastoralist Societies

Several factors may have led to the emergence of agricultural societies. These factors range from social factors economic factors and also climatic factors. The development of tools from stone in the stone-age period made it possible for the people to be actively involved in crop cultivation. Simple tools like hoes made of stone were used. Some scholars argue the agricultural societies may have emerged at the end of the ice age period. Before then, agricultural activities could not be supported due to the low temperatures, low carbon IV oxide levels, extreme humidity, and high amplitude fluctuations. However, no evidence has been found to support the argument that there was crop cultivation at the end of the last glacier activities that took places over two millenniums ago. The change to warmer climatic conditions made the ability to cultivate crops since it also promoted rains. Some of the hunters and gatherers slowly saw the need to grow crops and as a result invested in the same. As the population increased, there were more food demands. There was the need to get better sources of plenty of food since hunting and gathering just could not provide enough. Therefore, there was a need for crop cultivation set to provide sufficient food to feed the continuously growing population. Also, the increased population favored agricultural activities since there was sufficient human labor to support crop cultivation. It can be argued that, at the commencement of agricultural activities, people did crop cultivation in small scale. However, this does not mean that only a little labor was needed. In actual sense, agriculture was picking up and therefore people had not been fully accustomed to practices that would promote crop cultivation much easier hence the need for a wider scale of labor. It is also argued that the lack of information about the environment and the resources around promoted the delayed picking up of agriculture. It was not only after understanding the environment and resources around them when people realized the need to venture into crop cultivation. The varying rates with which different communities acquired sufficient information about their environment determined which communities first achieved success in agriculture. Besides, competition between social groups is said to have attributed to the emergence and development of agriculture. Communities due to pressure for superiority complex tried to outshine one another by venturing into new ways of crop cultivation that was geared towards increased returns regarding harvest. Feasting and accumulation of precious items was a common indicator of wealth among the people. Communities, as a result, tried to maximize potential in agriculture and other fields to be seen as prosperous. The overall effect of this was to facilitate the development of the agricultural sector. In the case of pastoralism, there are a few arguments about the factors that led to its emergence. To begin with, the existence of an extensive temperate grassland, tropical savanna, and subtropical desert may have led to the emergence of the pastoralist societies. This is because the areas provide a vast land with sufficient grass that the animals can feed on. Besides, these areas were suitable for the people’s nomadic way of life because the setting up of temporary settlements was easy and animal diseases were not very common. The technology of animal husbandry is also a facilitator of the emergence of pastoralism. The need for the people to rear cattle as a source of food and income necessitated the need for pastoralism. Though not used as the main source of income for people, pastoralism made a great contribution towards the evolution of the agricultural sector. To some communities, animals were a source of wealth and prosperity. Therefore, these communities kept large herds of cattle as active pastoralists. For instance, the Maasai and Nuer communities of Eastern Africa were pastoralists till at the present. Animals were a sign of wealth and the more animals one had, the wealthier they were said to be.

Effects of Agriculture and Pastoralism the Communities that developed them

Agriculture and pastoralism had a great impact on the communities that first development. It is highly unlikely that there are any negative effects brought about by agriculture. Nevertheless, the few available ones are also worth mentioning. On the positive side, though, the following are the positive effects:

Increased Food Security

Due to the production of products plenty, there was increased food security. New methods of food production facilitated an assurance of increased productivity in the agricultural sector. This is unlike the previous methods, such as seed broadcasting, where it was not easy to tell the outcome of the crops. The pastoralist sector also promoted food security since there was rearing of quality livestock hence an assured a continued supply of animal products such as eggs, milk and meat.

Increase in Population

There was a relative increase in the population since food was sufficient. When compared to the period before agriculture and pastoralism, the population density was so small, and the death rate was high among children due to poor nutrition. The food production era brought about greater food availability and better eating habits as a result of a wider variety of food. On the other hand, people began living closely together or in clusters as agriculture and pastoralism brought food within reach. This is unlike hunting and gathering where people had to live distantly to cover the wider range for the purpose of searching for food and hunting.

Inventions and Innovations

Since the beginning of agriculture and pastoralism, a series of inventions and innovations have taken place with the sole purpose of development. In the beginning, simple farming techniques were applied using the most basic tools, that is, use of stone made hoes in the stone-age period and use of seed broadcasting to plant crops. With time, however, use of metal tools was introduced such as hoes and machetes. Soil enriching methods to increase their fertility were discovered to boost the growth of plants. The gradual evolution of the agricultural sector goes on till new and sophisticated farming techniques were invented. The people were able to learn about irrigation, crop rotation and crossbreeding animals to come up with more productive animals. The overall effect of these inventions was to increase the efficiency of the agricultural and pastoralist sector and increase their productivity.

Changes in Social Organization

Keeping of surplus yields and redistribution of these yields may have brought inequities in society. This was because these roles are accorded to specific members of the society such as the elders in the society or their position within a kinship. As a result, it led to a rise of particular powerful people since they were in control of the resources of the society. This is unlike hunting and gathering whereby food was shared on the basis of kinship. Agriculture brought about complex economies and governments. This is because there was the need for a central body to govern the redistribution of resources in the agricultural sector. Moreover, it was to ensure that sufficient resources were put to facilitate the continuity and development of the agricultural sector.

Increased Trading Activities and Conflicts between Communities and Nations

As the agricultural sector thrived, so did the increase in population. To this effect, wars between communities became more common. There was competition for resources, and communities were willing to do whatever necessary to outdo one another. This necessitated the need for communities and states to keep themselves safe from other rival communities and states. A good example is the wall of Jericho that was built to keep it safe from its enemies as soon as it agricultural prospects increased. Trading activities also increased among the peaceful communities for the exchange of goods and other resources necessary promote the agricultural sector. Soon, there was also trading treaties among nations. The overall effect of this was to increase contact within and outside countries and kingdoms.


It is evident from this essay that the development of agriculture and pastoralism is a continuous process that has taken place from time immemorial to date. It is also critical to note that these two sectors have greatly contributed to modern day civilization.