Text reads: The Mysteries of Life with Tim and Moby
Tim is crouched in his backyard, holding a garden hose.
TIM: Can you hand me the shovel?
Moby hands him an envelope.
Moby turns around, walks to a lawn chair, sits, and takes a drink of lemonade.
Tim reads from a typed letter.
TIM: Dear Tim and Moby, what was the Agricultural Revolution? From, Sam. Well, somewhere around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, humans were living all over the globe in small, loosely organized groups of hunter-gatherers. These bands moved around a lot, hunting whatever animals they could find and using available plants for food, medicine, and even soap.
An image shows two men in animal skins sneaking up on a mastodon. A second image shows the kinds of plants hunter-gatherers collected.
TIM: Life as a hunter-gatherer was tough. You had to follow herds where they drifted and pick up and move when the resources of one area were exhausted.
An image shows dead animals and hunters leaving their campsite behind them.
TIM: Eventually, people in the Middle East, Africa, and Western Asia began to settle down into agricultural villages.
An image shows a more permanent-looking settlement, with well-constructed tents and a communal fire.
TIM: Agriculture is the process of modifying the environment in order to use it more effectively. These villages formed when people began to domesticate plants and animals.
Animations show a primitive farmer carrying water to a tilled field and watering a small area. A plant begins to sprout in the area he watered.
TIM: Well, domesticating something makes it useful to humans. That can include anything from roping livestock, to taming a dog, to selectively breeding vegetables to make them bigger and more nutritious.
Images appear of a roped pig in mud and a corn field.
TIM: So with their domesticated plants and animals, villagers had a steady source of food. Animals could be used to work the land, as well as supply leather, hides, furs, and fertilizer.
Images appear of corn plants, a dog, and a cow.
TIM: Well, experts believe that the very first place where humans participated in agriculture was something called the Fertile Crescent. This area of what is now Northern Africa and the Middle East had fertile soil, gentle rains, and long springs and summers, all of which made it an ideal spot for farming.
A map shows the area of Mesopotamia known as the Fertile Crescent.
TIM: The agricultural life wasn't easy at first. People didn't have the stress of moving around constantly, but they became more vulnerable to elements like weather. And their diets suffered from lack of variety; early villagers could only grow limited types of food.
An image shows two primitive farmers working in a cornfield. An animation shows rain and the corn plants destroyed.
TIM: The people tended to be smaller and less healthy than hunter-gatherer populations.
An image shows a small farmer next to a big, burly hunter.
TIM: Then there are the issues of waste and disease.
An animation shows flies buzzing around a foul-smelling pile of refuse.
TIM: There were no toilets or plumbing back then, so towns were probably pretty dirty.
An animation shows a woman dumping a bucket of waste out a window into the street.
TIM: And with so many people living close together in filthy conditions, diseases spread easily.
An animation shows a dirty town with piles of garbage and a red cloud indicating diseases floating through the streets.
TIM: It's true. Agriculture doesn't seem like such a great development at first, but our lives would be really different if our ancestors had never settled down. For one thing, extra food stocks allowed villages to get through hard times and to feed more and more people. So this new food surplus led to a growth in the population, or number of people in an area.
An animation shows the town with people going about their business. The number of people keeps increasing.
TIM: And living in large communities allowed people to specialize their labor. That means they became experts in certain areas and traded with their neighbors for everything else. Instead of having to take care of everything themselves, individuals could focus on what they were good at. This division of labor led to big gains in technology and wealth.
Images show a farmer, a metalworker, and an artist.
TIM: As societies grew larger and more complex, hierarchies were established. Those became the earliest forms of government.
An image shows a queen, with a crown on her head. She is standing atop a pyramid formed by people standing on each other’s shoulders.
TIM: Today we can look back on the first agricultural revolution, which is also called the Neolithic Revolution, as a turning point in the history of the world. It was one of the biggest steps in human history, and it led to us covering the Earth with our villages, towns, and cities.
An animation shows a revolving Earth.
TIM: Huh? What? You'd like to specialize in napping?
Moby is again seated in the lawn chair, drinking lemonade.
TIM: And be king at the same time?
TIM: Yeah, I'm not sure how that adds to society as a whole.