The Living Fields: Our Agricultural Heritage

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Oct 22, 1998 - Nature - 271 pages
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All civilizations, ancient and modern, are founded on agriculture. In this fascinating account of one of the most fundamental aspects of humankind's march from prehistory to the present day, the author considers the evidence for the origin and evolution of agriculture in various parts of the world and presents a balanced view based on the archaeology, botany, genetics, ecology and anthropology of domesticates and their wild relatives. The book describes the basic agricultural systems that emerged from areas yielding traces of the earliest plant and animal domestication and considers their drastic modification in recent times. The present situation is reviewed and the possible risks of a system that now relies on a relatively small number of species to supply the majority of our food are discussed in a concluding chapter. This book will interest professionals in the fields of agriculture, archaeology, and anthropology.
 

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Contents

Of pride and prejudice
1
Agriculture as discovery
5
Agriculture for religious reasons
18
Agriculture by crowding
21
Agriculture by stress
23
Indigenous perceptions
25
Evolution and revolution the processes of domestication
30
Cereal crops
31
Conclusions
143
The Far East
144
Recorded history
148
The crops
150
The South Pacific
165
India
169
The animals
170
The Americas
173

Other seed crops
34
Weed races
39
Vegetatively propagated plants
44
Animal domestication
46
Geography of plant domestication
49
Crop origins and evolution
54
Stones and bones
63
Dating history
65
Some generalities from archaeology
80
The Near East
86
The crops
93
The animals
106
Neolithic expansion
111
Agricultural vulnerability
112
Africa
116
Archaeological background
119
The crops
123
Decrue agriculture
134
The forest zone
138
East African highlands
139
The animals
140
Cereals
179
Roots and tubers
190
Beans
196
Tomatoes
200
Squashes
203
Peppers
204
Cottons
205
a final note
206
Conclusions
209
Some traditional techniques
210
Soil preparation
214
Water management
220
Sowing and reaping
225
Preservation of perishables
231
Processing
233
Where we stand
236
What in the world does the World eat?
240
References
251
Index
264
Copyright

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Working the Sahel
W.M. Adams,M.J. Mortimore
No preview available - 1999
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