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Only when economic surpluses (primarily food) were redistributed, first by chiefs and then by early states, did men rise to dominance in those agricultural civilizations. Because the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent is the best studied and had the greatest influence on humanity, this chapter will tend to focus on it, although it will also survey similarities and differences with other regions where agriculture and civilization first appeared. Whenever agriculture appeared, cities nearly always eventually appeared, usually a few thousand years later. Agriculture’s chief virtue was that it extracted vast amounts of human-digestible energy from the land, and population densities hundreds of times greater than that of hunter-gatherers became feasible. The , but today it is widely thought that population pressures led to agriculture's appearance. The attractions of agricultural life over the hunter-gatherer lifestyle were not immediately evident, at least after the first easy phase, when intact forests and soils were there for the plundering. On the advancing front of agricultural expansion, life was easy, but as forests and soils were depleted, population pressures led to disease, "pests" learned to consume that human-raised food, and agricultural life became a life of drudgery compared to the hunter-gatherer or horticultural lifestyle. Sanitation issues, disease, and environmental decline plagued early settlements, and not long after they transitioned from hunter-gatherers to farmers, but the land could also support many times the people. Another aspect of biology that applies to human civilization is the idea of . Over history, the society with the higher carrying capacity prevailed, and the loser either adopted the winner’s practices or became enslaved, taxed, marginalized, or extinct. On the eve of the Domestication Revolution, Earth’s carrying capacity with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was around 10 million people, and the actual population was somewhat less, maybe . On the eve of the Industrial Revolution in 1800, Earth’s population was , and again was considered to be about half of Earth's carrying capacity under that energy regime. No matter how talented a hunter-gatherer warrior was, he was no match for two hundred peasants armed with hoes.
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Some kinds of organisms found great success with their strategies and they marginalized other kinds and even drove them to extinction, to only die off themselves in a mass extinction event, and the previously marginalized life forms flourished in the post-catastrophic biome. The rise of might have never happened without the dinosaurs’ demise. Mass extinction events account for less than five percent of all species extinctions during the , but they had a profound impact on complex life’s history; the rise of mammals is only one of many radical changes. Not only would a class of animals such as mammals thrive when their dinosaur overlords were gone, but the of mammal evolution was also influenced. It took millions of years, even tens of millions of years, for ecosystems to approach their former level of abundance and diversity after a mass extinction event, and the new biomes could appear radically different from the pre-extinction biome. The geologic periods in the eon of complex life usually have mass extinctions marking their boundaries.
I earlier compared people from different epochs. That stone tool Tesla what his/her invention would lead to a half-million years later, and members of the founding group could not have comprehended . Imagine a hunter-gatherer of 10 kya being dropped into Rome in 100 CE or London in 1500 CE. History has some relevant examples. When , about the last of his people, came out of hiding in his dying world and strode into civilization, it caused a sensation. He soon died of tuberculosis, but his encounters with civilization were recorded. He attended an opera, and the popular account portrayed his rapport with the diva, but Ishi actually stared in amazement at the , as he had never before seen so many people in one place. When he saw an airplane in flight, he laughed in amazement. Imagine a hunter-gatherer of 10 kya being dropped into imperial Rome. That hunter-gatherer had probably seen dogs, but horses, cows, sheep, and the like would have been astounding, and watching a horse or ox pull a cart would have been stunning. Crops would have been an amazing sight. Imagine that hunter-gatherer at the . The building and crowd alone would have boggled his mind, even if the festivities might have been horrifically familiar. Metals and glass would have seemed magical. Writing had not yet been invented in that hunter-gatherer’s world, so even the concept would have been difficult. Imagine him trying to learn math. There were no more singing and dancing religious rituals, and no wide-open spaces to hunt a meal. Imagine that hunter-gatherer visiting a Roman bath. Hot water alone would have been surreal, while the cavorting might have been delightful. What would his reaction have been to Rome’s markets? Rome was also loud and could be hellish, so the hunter-gatherer might have longed to flee to the countryside before long, but the countryside would have little resembled the one he knew. He obviously would not have understood anything that anybody said, but they were also all members of , so he would have seen many behaviors and traits that he eventually understood. But how long would his shock have lasted? Could he have really ever adapted to Roman society (if he did not quickly end up on the arena’s stage as a novelty)? Another surprise for that hunter-gatherer would be seeing people interact who did not know each other. People were interacting with members and not trying to kill them on sight, which became standard behavior in most hunter-gatherer societies that battled over territory (their food supply). Civilized life was all made possible by the local and stable energy source that agriculture provided, which led to an epoch that changed very little until the next energy source was tapped: the hydrocarbon energy that powered the Industrial Revolution. The next chapter will survey the developments that led to that momentous event. It is the only Epochal Event with historical documentation that showed how it developed, which is easier to reconstruct than examining stones and bones.
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That had thick teeth that meant that it had abandoned the arboreal ape diet and brings up perhaps the single biggest question of the early human line: “When our ancestors became bipeds?” One piece of evidence for bipedalism is where the ; if it is underneath the skull, it suggests an upright posture and, hence, bipedalism. There is had a skull hole that meant bipedalism. Skull and vertebrae evidence, changes in the shoulders, arms, and hands of apes from onward, as well as the pelvis, legs, knees, ankles, and feet, are used whenever relevant ape fossils are found to determine what kind of posture they had, all the way from swinging from branches to walking upright. The great range of motion of the human arm has that arboreal heritage to thank.