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What is the Neolithic Revolution?

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Quick Answer

The Neolithic Revolution occurred when human societies began to transition from a lifestyle based on hunting and gathering to a lifestyle based on farming and domesticated animals. This shift created more permanent settlements and increased human populations.

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Full Answer

According to Smarthistory, The Neolithic Revolution is so named because it took place during the Neolithic era, or New Stone Age, around 11,500 to 5,000 years ago. This dramatic change is sometimes called the Agricultural Revolution because it rests on a knowledge of plant and animal husbandry. As a result of the growth of agriculture, human civilizations began to give up the nomadic life of foragers for a more sedentary lifestyle. Cities began to develop, and the residents of these cities were able to build up surplus resources. These surpluses allowed some members of society to forgo farming for other activities, leading to a division of labor and specialization. By exploring specialized professions, people could become experts at their trades, resulting in increased efficiency and productivity. Eventually, people produced more than their own society needed, which resulted in trade with other cultures. However, the effects of the Neolithic Revolution were not entirely benign. Many people in the new urban areas got less food than their foraging forebears, and the close proximity of people allowed for the rapid spread of epidemics. Also, agriculture requires harder work than foraging, which presumably led to declines in quality of life. The surpluses occasioned by the Neolithic Revolution also led to a growth in social inequality.

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