Friday, 4 May 2007


Wow you know what this has taken me so long to get around to finish off but finally I have it here for your viewing pleasure.

The three main early breakthroughs in the history of mankind have to be the domestication of crops, of cattle, and of fire. All of these can be thought of as major scientific sdvances (and in some cases we are still trying to work out how to improve on what we did at this stage of history) even if the scientific method was not really used.

There is evidence that Homo erectus was controlling fire up to a million years ago. Fire is important as it will have helped with lessening cases of food poisoning and improved the taste particularly of meat, both achieved by cooking the food. It also provided a means for defense, enabling the users to see in the dark and also as a scare for predators (most animals are afraid of fire). Later on as agriculture developed fire was an important tool in clearing land for growing crops.

Early man was a hunter-gatherer, this meant that he had to spend much of his time chasing animals and/or looking for edible plants/leaves/berries. Gradually the hunt became easier to follow the herds of prey animals and from there it was a simple step to instead of trying to follow, to lead the animals (at this point it is probable that man also began the domestication of the dog to help in this herding – although this may have been already started as part of the hunting – certainly this was something that dogs would have been selected for cf modern huntaways and such). And once you have control over the herd, it follows that you will ensure that the feeding and breeding of the herd is to your satisfaction. Selective breeding begins to create differences between the wild herds and the controlled herds. which we can see and indeed continue today with our domestic cattle.

So with the herding of “cattle” we loose the hunt part of hunter-gatherer but still we must maintain a nomadic lifestyle since we still need the gathering and now also we must find grasses for the cattle. This leads to the idea of growing your own. But the largest problem to that is that the feed for the cattle is different to the feed for humans, and indeed most often are found to be in different locations in nature.

The start of agriculture is a big step as it requires not only the finding/cross-breeding of the right types of plants to provide sustenance but also the growing of these said plants in a location where you can also get easy access to stock feed. So we have the domestication of crops leads to permanent settlements forming where access to the new crops and the stock feed is available.

And the permanent settlements leads to the domestication of humans.