Chapter 3: From Gathering to growing Food (Notes) Posted on : 19-11-2017
Posted by : Admin
We get our food such as fruit, vegetables, grain, milk and meat from plants that are grown and animals that are reared.
Different plants grow in different conditions. For example, rice requires more water than wheat and barley. In the same way, different animals prefer different environments. For example, sheep and goat can live in dry, hilly environments but not any other cattle.
As the climatic conditions of the world started changing. The men, women and children started observing the places where the crops grew, how the seeds fell on the ground and sprouted. They in fact started protecting them from birds and animals. In this way people became farmers.
People also attracted and tamed animals by leaving food for them. The first animal to be tamed was the wild ancestor of Dog. Later people started encouraging animals which were gentle to them. People also protected these animals from the attack of wild animals. In this way they became Herders.
Domestication is the process in which the man grows the plants and protects the animals. Most of these animals tended by man become different from there wild counterparts.
People often select the animals and plants to be domesticated by them. This process of domestication began some 12,000 years ago. Virtually all the plant and animal produces which we eat today are the result of Domestication.
People select the plants which are less prone to diseases, give large yields, strong stalks, capable to bear the weight of the ripe fruits etc. In case of animals, people select the ones which are less prone to disease, strong, relatively gentle in nature, etc.
Some of the early plants to be domesticated are Wheat & barley. Some of the early animals to be domesticated are goats & Sheep.
As the grains grown by the people must be stored both to be used as food and for future crops, proper storing was crucial. This led to the making large clay pots, or wove baskets, or dug pits into the ground.
Animals multiply naturally and when they are properly cared, they provide milk and meat. Hence animals that are reared can be used as a ‘store’ of food.
Archeologists have found evidences of early farmers and herders at the sites marked with yellow squares in the map below. These are found all over the subcontinent. Some of the most important ones are in the north-west, in present-day Kashmir and in east and south India.
To prove that these settlements belonged to farmers and herders, scientists study the evidences of plants and animals. Scientists have found burnt grain at these sites. These grains could have been burnt accidentally or purposefully. Also bones of different animals are found. Based on these finds scientists confirm that a number of crops plants and animals existed in different parts of India sub-continent.
The below table provides information on some of the sites and type of evidence found
Sheep, goat, cattle
Mehrgarh (in Pakistan)
Fragmentary animal bones
Koldihwa (in Uttar Pradesh)
Cattle (hoof marks on clay surface)
Mahagara (in Uttar Pradesh)
Wheat and Lentil
Gufkral (in Kashmir)
Wheat and Lentil
Dog, cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo
Burzahom (in Kashmir)
Wheat, green gram, Barley
Chirand (in Bihar)
Cattle, sheep, goat, pig
Hallur (in Karnataka)
Black gram, millet
Cattle, sheep, pig
Paiyampalli (in Andhra Pradesh)
Archaeologists have found traces of many things as mentioned below. They have use these things to know how the ancient people lived, what did the ancient people eat etc.,
Traces of huts at some sites: For example, in Burzahom (in Kashmir) people built pit-houses, which were dug into the ground, with steps leading into them. These houses may have provided shelter in cold weather.
Cooking hearths: Cooking places were found both inside and outside the huts, which suggests that, depending on the weather, people could cook food either indoors or outdoors.
Neolithic tools: Included polished stone tools to give cutting edge and mortar pistils used for grinding grains. Along with these Neolithic tools, even the tolls of Paleolithic age were still used.
Though some people have adapted to farming herding, in many areas people still continued to hunt and gather food. This suggests that the change was not at once.
Many farmers and herders lived in groups called as Tribes. Tribes are two to three generations living together in small settlements or villages. Most families are related to one another and groups of such families form a tribe.
Members of a tribe follow occupations like hunting, gathering, farming, herding and fishing.
Women do agricultural works like preparing ground, sowing seeds, caring for growing plants and harvesting grain. Children protected plants from animals and birds. Women also thresh, husk, and grind grain.
Men usually lead large herds of animals in search of pasture. Children often look after small flocks. Both men and women performed cleaning of animals and milking of animals.
Both women and men made pots, baskets, tools and huts. They also took part in singing, dancing and decorating their huts.
Some old and experienced, or young, brave warrior men were regarded as leaders. Old women were respected for their wisdom and experience.
Tribes have rich and unique cultural traditions, including their own language, music, stories and paintings. They also have their own gods and goddesses.
The land, forests, grasslands and water were regarded as the wealth of the entire tribe and everybody shares and uses these together. There were no sharp differences between the rich and the poor.
Mehrgarh, present day Pakistan is located on the fertile land of Bolen pass which forms the route to Iran. The following are the finds from this sie,
This was the first area where man first learnt to grow Barley, Wheat and to rear goats and sheep.
It is one of the earliest villages we know.
At the earliest levels of excavation, archeologists found bones of different kinds of animals like deer and pig. In next levels they found bones of sheep, goat. And in still later levels they found cattle bones.
Remains of square or rectangular houses. Each house had four compartments. Some of these compartments were also used for storage.
Several burial sites where the dead person was buried along with food and other items. This suggests that these people believed in life after death.
One of the most distinctive features of the village is that most of the people there are involved in food collection.
When a mound is dug up, the finds from the upper layers are from a later time and the finds from the lower layers are older.
Daojali Hading is a site on the hills of Bramhaputra valley, close to the routes leading to China and Mayanmar. One can find jadeite stone at Daojali hading which would have been brought from China.
Catal Huyuk is the Largest and the best preserved Neolithic sites found to date. It is located in Konya city of Turkey. Several things were brought from great distances on the pack of back of animals. Flint from Syria, Cowries from Red Sea, Shells from Mediterranean Sea.
Domestication began some 12,000 years ago. Settlements at Mehrgarh began some 8,000 years ago.