What Caused the Neolithic Revolution?

The catalyst for the Neolithic Revolution was a series of weather changes in a fertile area of the Middle East. Edible plants and game were abundant, encouraging previously nomadic people to build settlements. When the weather changed, these people learned to cultivate plants and animals to replace hunting and gathering.

The earliest people to settle in this fertile crescent of land were called the Natufians. These people relied heavily on wild grains and fashioned tools for harvesting it. As the weather became drier, the grain grew more sparsely and those furthest away from water returned to a nomadic life. Natufians closer to water first tended and watered the wild grains and later harvested seeds for sowing. Cultivation expanded to include other plants, such as chickpeas and lentils, and Natufians began to domesticate animals for meat, instead of relying on hunting.

As farming increased, irrigation methods were improved, creating surpluses that both encouraged larger communities and necessitated improved storage. The invention of pottery allowed for longer, safer storage of food and reduced spoilage. This encouraged a larger population and an increased need for food. Farmers adapted to increased demands by developing new techniques, such as water lifts. Granaries were built to store excess grains, and trade with neighboring communities began.