Sumer: Agriculture

Women were usually the gatherers in the group, so when they discovered some of the seeds from wild plants could be planted for a new crop, they took the first step towards farming. At first, seeds were scattered on the ground, but the women found burying the seeds in a small hole yielded better results. Sharp sticks were used to dig the holes but were soon replaced by the first spade and hoe. The spade and hoe were replaced with a foot plow, then a plow pulled by a man, and eventually, a plow pulled by an animal. The hunter-gatherers had become farmers. They grew wheat, barley, chickpeas, lentils, wheat, dates, onions, garlic, lettuce, leeks, and mustard.

Of course, farming did not provide meat. Farms had replaced the natural habitats around the rivers, so the wild animals moved farther away to find food. Some hunters followed them, but others discovered they could keep the wild animals near their homes. They would feed and protect the animals, so meat was always available. The animals became domesticated, and the hunters became herders. Sumerians raised cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs.

Farming and herding developed long before the first villages appeared in Mesopotamia. Most anthropologists estimate the appearance of agriculture around 12,000 years ago. However, new evidence suggests it may have developed as much as 23,000 years ago before the end of the last ice age.