All civilisations, 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 origins and evolution of agriculture in various parts of the world; a balanced view is presented based on the archaeology, botany, genetics, ecology and anthropology of domesticates and their wild relatives. The basic agricultural systems which emerged from areas yielding traces of the earliest plant and animal domestication are described, and their drastic modification in recent times is considered. In a concluding chapter the present situation is reviewed, and the possible risks of a system which now relies on a relatively small number of species to supply the majority of our food are discussed.
1. 'Of Pride and Prejudice'... Jane Austen; 2. Evolution and revolution: the process of domestication; 3. Stones and bones; 4. The Near East; 5. Africa; 6. The Far East; 7. The Americas; 8. Some traditional techniques; 9. Where we stand; References; Index.