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The Emergence of Agriculture (Scientific American Library) First Edition Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0716750550
ISBN-10: 0716750554
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Smith, an archaeologist, presents in plain English the story of the emergence of agriculture worldwide, as hunter-gatherers between 10,000-4500 years ago in different regions independently domesticated certain plants and animals. Smith provides a region-by-region examination, starting with the Fertile Crescent of the Mediterranean approximately 10,000 years ago, followed by Europe, Africa, Asia, Middle and South America, and finally North America, where he relates some of his own archaeological investigations. Color photographs and maps help tell the story. There are really two interwoven stories here: the when, where, how, and why of the transition to agriculture, and the investigations and discoveries of researchers attempting to find the answers. Smith explains how several recent technological developments have aided investigators. Another recent nontechnical yet intelligent work dealing with the beginnings of agriculture is the beautifully illustrated People of the Stone Age: Hunter-Gatherers and Early Farmers (LJ 2/1/94). Libraries collecting in this subject area will want both of these books.
William H. Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: Scientific American Library
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W H Freeman & Co; First Edition edition (December 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0716750554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0716750550
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 9 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By on February 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The beginnings of farming c. 10,000 years ago fundamentally changed human societies. Collaboration between archjaeologists and natural scientists has done a remarkable job in unravelling the where, when and whys of this story, but previous publications have concentrated on just or a few one regions. This is the first truly global survey of the domestication of plants and animals. It is up-to-date and well written and illustrated, and would be an excellent starting point for anyone interested in this topic. Readers should note that the paperback edition is substantially revised and is therefore preferable to the hardback, which still contains the original text.
Anyone who enjoys this book will also like Jared Diamond's Guns, germs and steel.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Atheen on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book was a little slow going. The topic is probably not noted for its exciting appeal. I did enjoy the new information that it provided. The concept of an almost natural change from wild harvested to domesticated cultigen by virtue of an interface of plant and human needs rather than by conscious efforts on the part of the harvester was interesting. It almost made the process seem inevitable. The information regarding wild plant ancestors of modern domestics, the likely site of origin for and the path of spread of these plants were also interesting. For some reason I found the domestication process of animals somewhat less so. Overall I think the book would be best used as a resource for information rather than an afternoon read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Bolton on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This colorful book uses a lot of information and statistical facts to bring the development of agriculture ot light in many regions of the world, even often forgot Africa. Plenty of pictures of the changes in plants and plenty of graphs and charts to help simplify all the information. A good over view of agriculture without getting into individuals findings on this day or that. A good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on March 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Emergence of Agriculture" tells the story of the transition of mankind from a hunter-gatherer existence to agriculture. This transition took place about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East and more recently in the other six areas in which farming and herding are believed to have developed independently. Chapters cover early agriculture in the Middle East, Europe and Africa, East Asia, Middle and South America, and North America. The domestication of wheat, rice, corn, livestock and other crops are discussed.

This is a well-produced, well-illustrated book with good color maps, photos, charts, and graphs. Those familiar with "Scientific American" magazine will recognize the reader-friendly style and format. However, I would have to agree with other readers that the prose is somewhat flat. That being said there's enough good information here to deserve a top rating.

What I found most interesting about the book was the discussion of the development of crops no longer significant for agriculture such as Chenopodium (pigweed) in the Americas. Unrecognized by archaelogists as a crop for many decades, the cultivation of Chenopodium pushes the earliest date of agriculture and urbanization in the United States back to about 5,000 years ago. The author's description of the discovery of early agriculture in North America is vivid and personal because he was a participant in the investigation. Likewise, his description of the development of corn (maize) as a crop is very good.

The agricultural revolution was one of the most -- if not the most --important step forward in the development of civilization. This book does an excellent job examining how agriculture became a reality in several different civilizations around the world.

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