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HISTORICAL FACTS: Farming in the Early Days

HOUSE IN CATAL HUYUK

Starch marks on stone implements found in Paupa New Guinea suggests yams may have been grown there at least 30, 000 years ago.
• Water chestnuts and beans may have been farmed near Spirit Cave in north Vietnam from 11,000 to 7500 BC.
• About 9000 BC, some people abandoned the old way of life, hunting animals and gathering fruit, and settled down to farm. Experts call this great change the Neolithic Revolution.
• Farming began as people planted grasses for their seed (or grain) in the Near East, in Guangdong in Chinaand in Latin America-and perhaps planted root vegetables in Peru and Indonesia, too.
• Emmer wheat and barley were grown in the Near East c.8000 BC. Sheep and goats were tamed here soon after.
• The ox-drawn plough was used from c.5000BC. the Chinese used hand plough even earlier.
• Crop irrigation canals were dug at Choya Mami, near Mandali in Irag, between 5500 and 4750 BC.
• China, the Indus, Egypt and Babylonia all had extensive irrigation systems in place by 3000 BC.
• The walls of the city of Jericho on the river Jordan, in the Near East, are 11,000 years old and the city has been continuously occupied longer than anywhere in the world.
• People began to live in towns when farming produced enough extra food for people to specialize in crafts such as basket-making and for people to begin to trade with each other.
.Village and towns probably first developed in Near East in the Neolithic period, about 8000 BC.
Tells are mounds that have built up at ancient settlement sites (in the Near and Middle East) from mud-brick houses that have crumbled.
• The most famous ancient towns is Catal Huyuk in Anatolia, Turkey, which was occupied from 7000 to 5500 BC. Ten thousand people may have lived here.
• The houses in Catal Huyuk were made from mud and bricks covered with fine plaster. Some rooms were shrines, with bulls’ heads and mother goddesses.
• Asikli Huyuk is a nearby forerunner of Catal Huyuk, dating from over a thousand years earlier.
• The first big city was Eridu in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq’s Abu Shahrain Tell), which has a temple dating from 4900 BC.
In 3500 BC, 50,000 people were living in Sumerian Uruk (modern Warka)
• Sumerian Ur was the first city to have a population of a quarter of a million, by about 2500BC.
• For 200 years after Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, Roman emperors ruled over an empire so large and secure that citizens could talk of the Pax Romma (Roman Peace).
• The Romans built straight roads to move their troops about quickly. On the whole, they governed peacefuly and also built hundreds of towns in the Roman manner.
• After Augustus died, in AD 14, his stepson Tiberius succeeded him. Then came a succession of Augustus’s descendants, including Gaius, Claudius and Nero.
• Gaius (AD 37-41) was known as Caligula (‘little boots’) because of the soldiers’ boots he wore a child.
• Soon after Caligula became emperor, an illness left him mad. He murdered his sister and elected his horse as a minister. Eventually he was murdered by soldiers.
• Claudius (AD 41-54) replaced Caligula. People thought he was stupid because he stuttered and was physically disabled. However, he proved the wisest and most humane of all emperor.
• Claudius was probably poisoned by his fourth wife Agrippina, who wanted power for her son Nero.
• The power of Roman emperors reached a peak under the ‘Antonines’-Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus and Marcus Aurelius. They ruled AD 96-180.
• The Roman Empire grew only a little after Augustus’s death. Britain was conqured in AD 43, and Emperor Trajan took Dacia (now Hungary and Romania).
Source: World History, Miles Kelly publishers, London, 2004

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