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Social and Cultural Consequences of The Neolithic Revolution

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Neolithic is a period of prehistory that begins with the appearance of agriculture and the first settlements in the form of a village. It extends between the years 8,000 and 3,000 BC. It is usually called this period as the Neolithic Revolution or Agricultural Revolution because it shows the first manifestations of agricultural activity. This economic transformation was developed by the influence of climate change that forced the populations of bands of shepherds to leave the mountains and go down to the lands of the valleys in search of the increasingly scarce hunting prey; in fact, they must leave the rooms they had erected on the banks of the watercourses. The need to find a subsistence activity led Neolithic men to collect and store cereals, which were soon to be planted and harvested. In parallel, the man managed to tame some small animals like the dog.

The first place where agriculture appeared was in the Near East, in the current Asian Turkey. Residues from agricultural activity have also been found in the Indus valley that has been dated to 7800 BC. However, it is estimated that only in the year 3500 BC some populations managed to develop agriculture. The rest stayed with their hunting and gathering habits. The adoption of agriculture meant for its users the possibility of developing civilizations more advanced than those of their contemporaries, due to the cultural changes that it produced. The most important thing is the passage of nomadic groups to sedentary populations, motivated by the need to develop agriculture and livestock, and to establish a fixed place of food and residence. Consequently, the sedentarization originated the urban development and the cities. Although it is true that many human groups dedicated to fishing in coastal regions lived in species of villages, they did not have a functional organization for economic activity and cities had not developed. On the other hand, the adoption of agriculture generated, for the first time in the history of man, the possibility of having food surpluses and there was a phenomenon of demographic growth; that is, the population had a sustained increase over time.

The Agricultural Revolution that took place during the Neolithic period brought a series of social and cultural consequences to the incipient human settlements. These settlements where this revolution was developed are distributed mainly in the Near East, the east coast of the Mediterranean and the north of Africa. This geographical distribution is called Medialuna fertile. In these regions, the first great civilizations of the West were located. These were distributed around large rivers that provided enough water and nutrients to have a large food production. These great rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia; and the Nile River in Egypt.

The abundance of food ensured a great demographic growth, which made grow the villages that were transformed into cities. In conjunction with the technical revolution, the agricultural revolution led to a division and specialization of labor. It was enough that a sector of the population was dedicated to agricultural tasks to support the city. Thus, the rest began to devote to other jobs, activities, and products. Crafts, art, commerce, construction, and administration were developed. In the same way, the organization of the city became more complex, leading to the creation of institutions, such as the State and Religion, which exercised power, established the administration, and directed the destinies of the social body. In other words, society reached a high degree of complexity, in terms of its organization and way of life.

The urban development and the demographic explosion provoked the social differentiation based on the specialization of the economic tasks; as of this moment, the men and women were divided according to their function in the organization of the village. The skills and technical abilities gave rise to the appearance of farmers, ranchers, artisans, warriors, etc. Belatedly begins a precarious metallurgical activity, present both weapons and instruments of daily use.

In the Neolithic, evidence has been found of the existence of the first elaborate religions, which have been associated with extraordinary megalithic architectural complexes. It is spoken of Megalithic Complex to talk about to the constructions of great stone tombs that are dispersed between as far places as Stonehenge in England, Denmark and the temples of Tarxien in the island of Malta. The megalithic complexes are considered a test of the religious activity of the first civilizations and are related to the specialization of the functions that the adoption of agriculture meant for them.

With the discovery of agriculture and livestock, the human being begins to cultivate several kinds of cereal such as rice, wheat, and corn, or tubers such as potatoes, in various regions of the world between the Sixth and the Fifth Millennium B.C. Thus, it stops being dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering, it becomes self-sufficient and this allows it to adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Having grown in isolation the first civilizations, the diets of each were diverse, according to the plant and animal products that existed in their immediate environment. Thus, pork, chicken, and rice were characteristic of the Chinese diet; Wheat, vine, cow, and sheep were typical of the Middle East and the Mediterranean world; and corn, tomato, potato, and tobacco were typical of pre-Columbian America. However, these food barriers were falling as the different historical civilizations came into contact with each other and traded with each other. In this way, spices such as pepper and nutmeg came from the east to Europe thanks to Muslim trade during the Middle Ages, and different American products did the same after the United States and Europe came into contact during the fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries.


Barker, G. (2006). The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why Did Foragers Become Farmers? Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from

Romero, J. (2019, April 30). Primeras civilizaciones fluviales: Mesopotamia y Egipto. Retrieved from

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Social And Cultural Consequences Of The Neolithic Revolution. (2021, July 01). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 25, 2022, from
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