Settling down

Reading the preface of James C Scott’s book Against the Grain, I realised that it promises to live up to my expectations. Scott disentangles the timelines of settled agriculture, which is only possible with domesticated crops and livestock. The process of domestication was spread over millenia in the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates, starting around 8000BCE. Domestication was an essential step on the way to settling in a fixed location.

Establishing crop-fields attracted species that were later domesticated.

Establishing permanent crop-fields attracted wildlife such as ducks and other fowl that could, like fire or food crops, also be domesticated. Scott argues that the process of domestication is reciprocal, since humans adapted in subtle ways to the livestock they wanted to keep.

There is a lot of detail to absorb, so it will be a while before I return to discussing his analysis of the history of the region that later became Mesopotamia and Sumeria. Scott is published by Yale University Press.

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