From Foraging To Farming: Explaining The Neolithic Revolution
- ISSN: 09500804
- DOI: 10.1111/j.0950-0804.2005.00259.x
Abstract. This article reviews the main theories about the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The transition, also known as the Neolithic Revolution, was ultimately necessary to the rise of modern civilization by creating the foundation for the later process of industrialization and sustained economic growth. The article provides a brief historical survey of the leading hypotheses concerning the rise of agriculture proposed in the archaeological and anthropological literature. It then turns to a more detailed review of the theories put forth in the economic literature.
From Foraging To Farming: Explain...
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University of Copenhagen
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Explaining the Neolithic Revolution∗
Jacob L. Weisdorf †
November 4, 2003
This paper reviews the main theories and evidence regarding the prehis-
toric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, an event which took
place for the first time some 10,000 years ago. The transition, which is
also known as the Neolithic Revolution, led to the rise of civilisation as
we know it, and seems to have borne the seeds for the later process of
industrialisation and for economic growth in general. The paper provides
a brief historical survey of the leading hypotheses concerning the rise of
agriculture proposed in the archaeological and anthropological literature.
It then turns to a more detailed review of the theories proposed in the
Keywords: agriculture, hunting-gathering, neolithic revolution, transi-
JEL codes: N50, O30, Q10
∗I would like to thank John Chircop, Carl-Johan Dalgaard, Charles Dalli, Christian Groth,
Finn Tarp, and the lunch-meeting participants at University of Malta for their comments. I
am particularly indebted to Charlott H. Jensen at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute of Near
Eastern Studies in Copenhagen for her comments and literary recommendation.
†Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen, 6, Studiestraede, 1455 Copenhagen K,
Denmark (Fax: +45 35 32 30 00; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)