Agriculture: a mixed blessing
Although agriculture acted as a spur to many aspects of social and technological development, increasing reliance on a narrow range of food crops had many downsides that sometimes caused people to revert to hunter gathering. The restricted nutrient content of some crops, especially cereals, led to a reduction in human stature and an increase in degenerative diseases. People adapted both behaviourally and genetically to their increasing reliance on crops and livestock. Genetic changes in various populations included reduced maxillo-facial structures, lactose tolerance, malarial resistance, and partial resistance to zoonoses. Although many of these changes had an adverse impact on human wellbeing at the individual level, the greater size and techno-social complexity of agrarian based societies enabled them to out-compete hunter-gatherers. Despite their superior individual fitness, hunter-gatherers were fewer in number, less well organized, and lacked access to new technologies developed by their sicklier but formidably equipped agrarian neighbours.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.