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UNIT 4: Agricultural and Urban Revolutions

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Early Settlements

This segment looks at the development of early agricultural societies. It demonstrates how much scholars still have to learn, as well as the variety of ways societies could adopt agricultural practices.

In the ancient city of Mergarh, Pakistan, for example, new scientific evidence has caused scholars to rethink previous assumptions about the development and spread of agriculture in western Asia. Until the 1960s, scholars believed that migrants from the West brought with them to Mergarh (in about 6000 BCE) the complexities associated with settled communities — including agriculture and pottery. But in recent decades this story of "diffusion" from the West has been complicated by evidence showing that the people of Mergarh had domesticated local varieties of barley long before migrants brought their varieties to the settlement. This recent indication that agriculture arose independently in Mergarh has helped scholars realize that the story of the transition to agriculture was highly complex and cannot simply be explained by diffusion.

Archaeological evidence from Mesoamerica has similarly demonstrated that societies followed many different paths in the transition to agriculture. There, scholars have found that nomadic peoples in central Mexico intensively selected and harvested wild maize, thereby influencing the plant's genetic makeup. Indeed, it is now clear that societies did not need to be settled in order to participate in agriculture.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous Chinese, ZHONG [SHANG DYNASTY BELL] (1199-1100 BCE). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.

Anonymous Chinese, SHANG OR ZHOU WINE VESSEL (ca. 1200-1100 BCE). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.


Anonymous, SHANG BRONZE AXE WITH FACE (ca. 1300-1100). Courtesy of WorldArt Kiosk/Kathleen Cohen.

Hot Pepper Studios, created for Bridging World History, MAP OF LOCATION OF ÇATALHÖYÜK 6000 B.C.E. (2004) Courtesy of Oregon Public Broadcasting.



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