From Foraging to Farming: The So-Called 'Neolithic Revolution'

60 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2003

Date Written: January 22, 2003


This essay provides evidence that the invention of agriculture was not a dramatic technological advance in the history of humankind and that agriculture was quite consistent with nomadic hunting and gathering. The available clues also suggests that exact origins of agriculture do not seem important. Rather, the crucial question is why certain societies dramatically increased their dependency on agriculture for subsistence two to ten millennia ago. Unfortunately, most of the major theories purporting to explain the neolithic revolution - either the origins or the spread of agriculture - are either untestable or inconsistent with the available evidence. What is at stake for economic historians is to rethink the process of the adoption of agriculture using a multi-causal approach.

Keywords: Invention/adoption of agriculture, nomadism, intensification of food production

JEL Classification: N50, N00, O30, O40, Q00

Suggested Citation

Pryor, Frederic L., From Foraging to Farming: The So-Called 'Neolithic Revolution' (January 22, 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Frederic L. Pryor (Contact Author)

Swarthmore College ( email )

500 College Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States

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