Spread of Farming (7000 BC – AD 500)


Spread of Farming (7000 BC – AD 500)


“Farming (and, later, urban life) began independently [in] just a few critical landscapes, and became widely adopted by their neighbours. While this was not the result of a single movement of peoples, or any simple process of colonization or cultural expansion, it is essential to recognize the clear overall pattern. This can best be described as a contagious process, initiated in a few nuclear areas, which gave rise to a traveling wave of population increase and cultural change…

“In the Old World, the two principal nuclear areas were the Near East (western Asia) and China. The Near East developed earlier and faster, so that it came to affect a larger proportion of the landmass, before the two macrosystems came increasingly into contact after 2000 BC, at first indirectly but from 500 BC more directly – both via the steppe region and through India. It was not, for the most part, a simple process of passive “diffusion” (though many key innovations spread outwards from the central regions); instead, the process of contagious spread gave rise to increasing regional diversity by reaction and local re-interpretation of the opportunities presented by this process.

“[This map is] exploratory and experimental.” [1]


© ArchAtlas 2006

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Sherratt, Andrew, (2005), ‘Contagious Processes’, ArchAtlas, October 2006, 2nd Edition, http://www.archatlas.org/Processes/ContagiousProcesses.php, Accessed: 27 April 2007.

ArchAtlas 2nd edition, July 2006