Plants & Human Affairs
Cherries.wmf (7140 bytes) Plants & Human Affairs (BIOL106)  -  Stephen G. Saupe, Ph.D.; Biology Department, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University, Collegeville, MN 56321;;

Origin of Agriculture Study Guide

Reading:   Chapter 11

Goal of this Unit:  The primary goal of this unit of the course is to provide a general overview of the various hypotheses that have been offered to explain the development of agriculture.  Specifically we will:

  1. describe how, why, when and where agriculture originated.

  2. indicate the types of plants cultivated

  3. describe the difference between cultivated, native, naturalized, domesticated

  4. describe the consequences of the development of agriculture.

Important Terms/Concepts:

  • C-12, C-14

  • cereal             

  • coprolite               

  • cultivation 

  • domestication           

  • dump heap          

  • Fertile Crescent         

  • half-life

  • multi-purpose crop  

  • Near East  

  • phytolith

  • primary crop       

  • radioactive decay

  • secondary crop

  • shattering

  • slash and burn agriculture

Objectives of this Unit:  Upon completion of this unit you should be able to:

  1. compare and contrast domestication and cultivation

  2. identify some of the causes and consequences of humans adopting an agricultural lifestyle (i.e., increased wars, social stratification, famine, dietary disease)

  3. give some example of how agriculture has lead to increases in dietary disease and famine

  4. which came first - population growth or agriculture?  agriculture or civilization?  whadayathink?

  5. briefly explain how the radiocarbon dating technique works

  6. describe some of the evidence obtained from archaeological sites that help ethnobotanists date the beginnings of agriculture

  7. explain why pollen grains have been especially helpful in ethnobotanical studies.

  8. indicate when agriculture originated.  What is the evidence?

  9. discuss why hilly areas with a Mediterranean-type climate favored the developed of agriculture.

  10. locate on a world map the following centers where agriculture developed: Fertile Crescent; Peru, Mexico, SE Asia, Near East

  11. explain the impact of geography on the spread of agriculture

  12. explain what it means that a crop is "native" to a region

  13. identify some of the hypotheses that suggest 'how' and ancestors learned to cultivate/domesticate crops.

  14. identify some hypotheses that explain 'why' our ancestors began to cultivate crops (i.e., origin of agriculture).

  15. explain why some botanists believe that root crops and multi-purpose crops were the first ones to be cultivated

  16. name three crops native (domesticated) to North America

  17. who was Vavilov and explain the basis/evidence used by Vavilov to determine the centers of domestication

  18. indicate why most botanists believe that agriculture had independent origins in several locations rather than a single origin than spread (diffusionists)

  19. compare and contrast the trends in crop domestication - in other words, what features were present in wild plants that our ancestors selected out of them

  20. compare and contrast Old vs. New world agriculture practices

  21. compare and contrast temperate vs. tropical agriculture

  22. What is breadfruit?  What was the purpose of the voyage of the Bounty?  How is breadfruit preserved and why?

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Last updated:  01/07/2005 / � Copyright  by SG Saupe / URL: