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Current time:0:00Total duration:8:42

Video transcript

- [David] Hey, Rosie. - [Rosie] Hey, David. - [David] So as you know, I am a bit of a foodie. And you know what foodies love more than anything? - [Rosie] Food? - [David] Well, yeah, but, road trips. - [Rosie] (laughing) Cool, yes. - [David] So what I would like to do is go on a road trip and follow the origins of agriculture. Starting at about 11,000 years ago to bring us into the era of history. So we're going from this neolithic pre-writing time that brings us all the way up to the first cities. - [Rosie] Great. - [David] So, Rosie. Where do we begin? - [Rosie] Okay, we begin in modern-day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. - [David] Okay, so kind of this "Fertile Crescent" area, a little bit of Asia Minor. This is a very gross over-generalization of the region we're talking about, 'cause I'm looking at this from a globe perspective with no country borders. Which is actually ideal, because there were no nation-states, right, there's just kind of damp places where barley grows at this point. - [Rosie] And that's exactly what was growing there. People were farming when people started farming, wheat and barley. And they were also domesticating animals. Sheep, goats, cows, and pigs. The neat thing is that in all of these places that we're gonna look at, agriculture was developing independently. These were some of the first birthplaces of agriculture in the world, and people in these locations just invented it on their own. - [David] So it's not like someone from the Fertile Crescent wandered over to Mexico and said, "Hey, I discovered this "thing with barley. "You should try it with corn." This is more like independent groups of human beings all discovered this stuff independent of one another. - [Rosie] That's right. - [David] Kind of like the way Newton and Leibniz both discovered the calculus. - [Rosie] Exactly. (laughing) - [David] Just trying to make some cross-disciplinary connections. - [Rosie] I like it. - [David] Thank you. Okay, so this is our earliest one, 9000 B.C.E. - [Rosie] 9000 B.C.E., that's the first evidence that archaeologists have of agriculture. - [David] Okay. - [Rosie] Then we move to modern-day Sudan near the Sahara Desert, the southeastern edge of it, 'cause it's a very big desert. - [David] And what was grown there, pray tell? - [Rosie] Sorghum. - [David] So today in the United States, sorghum is used mostly for animal feed, but also, you can make a sweet syrup out of it. I imagine the ancient peoples used it as kind of a general purpose staple grain. - [Rosie] Right. They also domesticated cows and sheep. - [David] So that's, how long ago was that, Rosie? - [Rosie] That was from 9000-7000 B.C.E. - [David] And that's where the Sudan and the South Sudan is today. - [Rosie] Yes. - [David] Okay. - [Rosie] Then, over on the western side of Africa in what is today Nigeria, about a thousand years later, people started cultivating yams, okra, and black-eyed peas. - [David] So okra, kinda these long green pods. You may have eaten them before, they're quite delicious. They kind of have a delicious mucilaginous goop. - [Rosie] Mmmm. - [David] I know that doesn't sound delicious, but it is. It's really important for gumbo and all sorts of foundational cuisines. It's also got this lovely little flower. So okay, we've got okra. - [Rosie] Okra, yams, and black-eyed peas. - [David] Now for those of you that live in the American South, you may recognize a lot of these vegetables as being parts of your diet as well. That's something we'll cover several thousand years from now. - [Rosie] Yeah, the time period on these crops is from about 8000-6000 B.C.E. is when those got started. - [David] And both of these are in sub-Saharan Africa, so if we pause it, the desert is up here and up here. These regions are beneath it. - [Rosie] That's right. - [David] Okay. - [Rosie] Now David, we're gonna head over to East Asia for a little bit. - [David] So this here is Yangtze River. - [Rosie] Yes. - [David] So what do we have? - [Rosie] Well starting at about 6500 B.C.E., people who lived along the river started farming rice. There's rice paddies, and rice needs a lot of water to grow. They also domesticated pigs and buffalo, which is kind of neat, and they domesticated chicken. So then we go north of the Yangtze River. In the Yellow River area of China, and about 5500 B.C.E. people there started to cultivate millet and soybeans. - [David] And Rosie, when did the Yangtze cultivation of rice, pigs, buffalo... - [Rosie] At about 6500 B.C.E. - [David] Gotcha. Alright, so we've got these millet stalk, and then the big broad leaves of the soybean plant, little beans hanging down. So that was about 5500. - [Rosie] That's right, and we're going to move over to Mexico for a little bit in 4000 B.C.E. - [David] Right here? - [Rosie] Right there. So here we have those maize plants that you were telling us about in the last video. Later on they started cultivating all kinds of other plants such as beans, peppers, squashes, and tomatoes. But in 4000 B.C.E. they were growing lots of maize. So in about 3000 B.C.E, over in Southeast Asia. - [David] So this is Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia. - [Rosie] Yes, yes. So in 3000 B.C.E., that area saw cultivation of taro. - [David] So taro is like a starchy root vegetable. - [Rosie] Taro, yams, coconuts, bread fruit, bananas, and citrus fruits. - [David] What's interesting to me is that with the exception of citrus here, all of these things that we're looking at, so rice, millet, wheat, barley, yams, sorghum, bread fruit, taro, they're all starches. - [Rosie] Yeah, high calorie foods. - [David] And I guess these are the sorts of things that can sustain a person. - [Rosie] Right. I think when people were starting agriculture, they had to find what would be the best bang for the buck, or the most effective types of food since this is uncharted territory. So foods that had a lot of calories, that were more able to sustain people would probably be the better choice. - [David] So finishing up our world tour. - [Rosie] Yes, we're coming back over to the Americas in Peru and the Andes Mountains. Farmers were growing potatoes... - [David] Oh yay. - [Rosie] Which we haven't seen yet, which is kind of cool. - [David] So potatoes is foods that is eaten now all over the world. The same as all of these crops. Begins in this one weird little mountain area. - [Rosie] After 3000 B.C.E. And this is also the one place in the Americas where we see animals getting domesticated during this time period. In other parts of the Americas, there weren't animals that were easily domesticated. But here we've got llamas, alpacas, and even guinea pigs were domesticated. - [David] All of those animals are still domesticated in that region today, including guinea pig, which in Quechua is called cuye, which people still eat. I would be curious to try it actually. - [Rosie] Yeah, me too. - [David] So Rosie, that's our world tour of agriculture. You can see all over the world, from 9000 B.C.E. to 3000 B.C.E., human beings were adapting the local flora to their own needs. And in some cases, domesticating animals like llamas and pigs and sheep and guinea pigs. - [Rosie] Pretty neat. So David, throughout the world, as you were saying, all of these independent locations, there's this growth of agriculture. So how did that affect these settlements and villages in the way that people organized their lives? - [David] Well Rosie, that's a story for another time.