Agriculture is a way of obtaining food from domesticated plants and animals. Much more than a system of food production, agriculturalism changes the very fabric and structure of a society.

Agriculture is an extremely complicated and lengthy process that requires numerous factors to succeed in the long run:

Propagation: the selection of the appropriate seeds or the breeding of the best animals.
Husbandry: the tending of either the plants of animals during their growth period.
The harvesting of plants when they are ripe or the slaughter of animals when they have reached maturity.
The necessary social mechanisms which allow a large group of individuals to manage, maintain, and distribute the products of their agricultural activity.

Archaeologists are only beginning to accept the fact that the various possible pathways to the development of agriculture as well as the nature of its adoption vary greatly. Unfortunately, up until very recently African examples of early agriculture have been studied less than those in North America and the Near East.

The most recent work suggests that, instead of fitting into the broad patterns known in other portions of the world, patterns of early African plant and animal domestication appears distinctive to a number of given regions.

Why did humans adopt agriculture? Most models for the origins of agriculture fall into two different categories: risk management model and ecological model.

Its plain to see that the possible reasons for the development of agriculture are very complex. When archaeologists excavate a site, however, the reasons for the development of agriculture are not always in the front of their thoughts. They are, however, interested in knowing if the individuals who inhabited their site practiced agriculture. Want to explore the evidence which indicates agriculturalism? Click on the "Explore the evidence for agriculture" icon.


Risk management model
Some say that agriculture developed as a way to deal with environmental risks, explore this model
Ecological model
Others say that agriculture developed because people began to exploit their local ecology more and more over time.
Evidence for agriculture
Find out what archaeologist look for when trying to pinpoint agriculture in the archaeological record.