1.3 Early Farmers

1. The Age of Hunters and Farmers
1.3 Early Farmers

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Slide 1: Slide
HistoryMiddelbare schoolhavo, vwoLeerjaar 1

This lesson contains 30 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 2 videos.

time-iconLesson duration is: 50 min

Items in this lesson

1. The Age of Hunters and Farmers
1.3 Early Farmers

Slide 1 - Slide

What is this lesson about?
When the last Ice Age was over, prehistoric people in the Middle East started to become farmers. They no longer moved around but lived in one place. Here they could grow crops and keep animals. Pottery was invented, to store things.

Slide 2 - Slide

What you can do after this lesson
  • explain when and why first agriculture began in the near east
  • explain how the first farmers discovered how to grow their own crops
  • explain the meaning of domestication
  • explain how the first farmers lived

Slide 3 - Slide

Word Duty

Ice Age: periods in the past when areas of the world were covered by ice and it was very cold

Agriculture: a way of living where people grow their own crops and keep animals

Fertile Crescent: area around the rivers Tigris, Euphrates and Nile

Agricultural revolution: farming was introduced, a completely new way of living in prehistory

Domestication: tame animals for your own use

Pottery: an invention of farmers to store products


Slide 4 - Slide

Timeline of this module

Slide 5 - Slide


In this section, we will see that prehistoric people changed from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. Farmers are people who grow crops and keep animals. This change did not happen overnight. It took thousands of years. But how did it start?

Slide 6 - Slide

Climate change

For a hundred thousand years, nothing could live in large parts of Europe because it was covered in a thick layer of ice. The region that now is known as the Netherlands also had a polar landscape. But then the climate changed and it became warmer on earth. The ice melted and the last Ice Age ended around 10,000 BC. At that time the conditions were right for people in the Middle East to learn a new way of getting food: agriculture.
Written sources are text sources. The information that a historian gets from the source is written (in any language or on any material).
The written source in the picture is a clay tablet with cuneiform inscriptions. It is the oldest form of writing in history, dating back to 3200 BC.

Source 1.3.1
The changes in temperature on Earth in prehistory. You can see that there have been several Ice Ages in the past.

Hunter-gatherers become farmers

Around 10,000 BC, a gatherer in the Middle East developed a smart way to get food. It might have even been by accident that she found out that plants grow when she put the seeds in the ground. When she looked after them, by watering them and removing all the other plants, the plants would grow. After a while the plants would even be edible. So, instead of eating all the wild grain she found, the gatherer kept some seeds to grow new plants. She also made fields to protect the grain. Now that she could grow her own food she didn’t have to travel to gather wild grains. Instead, she could just plant seeds wherever she would like plants to grow. She was no longer a hunter-gatherer, but had become a farmer.

Slide 7 - Slide

For each statement, choose the correct answer.
1. prehistoric people have lived as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years

This is an example of:


Slide 8 - Quiz

For each statement, choose the correct answer.
2. There have been several ice ages in the past.

This is an example of:


Slide 9 - Quiz

For each statement, choose the correct answer.
3. hunter-gatherers became farmers during prehistory.

This is an example of:


Slide 10 - Quiz

For each statement, choose the correct answer.
4. For the last 10,000 years, there were no ice ages.

This is an example of:


Slide 11 - Quiz

The Fertile Crescent

Farming started in the Middle East. The people that lived near the Tigris, Euphrates and the Nile rivers started to learn how to grow their own food. This region is called the Fertile Crescent, because the area is shaped like a crescent moon. The land was fertile because the rivers provided enough water for the crops to grow. The farmers grew plants with edible seeds, like emmer, barley and wheat.
Because of farming, the people didn’t have to travel around anymore. They started to live in fixed places to look after their fields. Because of this they build stronger houses close to each other. There was enough to eat, so more people survived. The population began to grow and small settlements were formed where between 100 and 200 people lived. These settlements became the first villages.
Source 1.3.2
Source 1.3.2
 A map of the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East.

Slide 12 - Slide

crescent moon

Slide 13 - Drag question

Put the events in the correct chronological order
Plant the seeds of grain.
Make small fields for the grain to grow.
Collect grain seeds in the wild.
Now you grow your own grain crops.
Save some grain seeds for the next year.

Slide 14 - Drag question

Keeping animals

The agricultural revolution didn’t happen in a few years. It took thousands of years for people to learn how they could grow their own food. At first they combined farming with hunting animals, but it was difficult to follow the animals around now they lived in one place. So they only hunted animals that lived close to their villages.
Around 6000 BC, farmers in the Fertile Crescent learned how to tame animals for their own use. This is called domestication. The first farmers captured wild animals to keep them behind fences. They even began to look at useful characteristics some animals had, for example how calm they were or how much fat they could grow. Animals that had a lot of flesh were used to breed new animals that also had a lot of flesh. After doing this for several generations, new breeds were created. Eventually the farmers didn’t only grow plants, but now also had goats and sheep around their house. Pigs and cows followed around 4000 BC.
Source 1.3.3
The aurochs were bred to become smaller instead of bigger (present-day drawing).
Dogs were already domesticated by hunter-gatherers around 14,000 years ago, to help them during the hunt.

Slide 15 - Slide

The domestication of pigs began 80,000 years ago.


Slide 16 - Quiz

The first animals to be domesticated were goats and sheep.


Slide 17 - Quiz

Animals were selected for their useful characteristics.


Slide 18 - Quiz

It took hundreds of years before the animals were tame.


Slide 19 - Quiz

Pigs were selected for the amount of flesh they had.


Slide 20 - Quiz

Slide 21 - Video

moving from place to place
finding grain, fruit and vegetables
hunting animals and fishing
small groups
only few possessions that can be carried
Farming was a big change in the way prehistoric man lived. So what changed exactly?
Drag each change  to the correct place in the table.

large groups
domesticating animals
growing your own crops
living in one place
(= settling)

Slide 22 - Drag question

Agriculture in our region

The population in the Fertile Crescent kept growing. To feed everyone, the farmers needed more land. Because of this, they had to move to new areas. Around 9,000 years ago, agriculture spread from the Middle East to South and Central-Europe. The farmers took their knowledge, plants and animals with them.

The invention of pottery is an example of new knowledge that was spread by the farmers. Pottery is made by forming clay into a certain shape and heating it to high temperatures in an oven. Pottery was used to store products like grain and seeds.
About 5300 BC, farming appeared in our region. The first group of people who were farmers in our region, stored their products in pottery decorated with straight lines. Because of this, we say these farmers belong to the Linear Pottery Culture. This culture is found in large parts of Europe, for example in the south of nowadays Limburg. Above the river Maas and the river Rhine we find the Funnel Beaker Culture. The people of this culture built the Hunebedden.
Source 1.3.4
Pottery from the Linear Pottery Culture (5400 - 4900 BC).
Source 1.3.5
 Pottery from the Funnel Beaker Culture (2500 - 2200 BC).
Source 1.3.6
A reconstruction of a group of farmers with their crops and animals (present-day drawing).
Agriculture did not spread all the way from the Fertile Crescent to China or Latin America. Farming spontaneously began in more than one place in the world around the same time. People just needed soil and a good temperature for their crops to grow. In Latin America these first crops were not wheat or barley, but maize or manioc. Here, the first animals farmers kept were not goats and sheep, but alpacas.

Slide 23 - Slide

Create correct English sentences by dragging the words at the bottom to the correct place in the sentence:

so the people 
in the Fertile Crescent  
The population 
needed to find 
new farm land 
was growing,  

Slide 24 - Drag question

Create correct English sentences by dragging the words at the bottom to the correct place in the sentence:

around 5300 BC 
The first farmers   
in our region 

Slide 25 - Drag question

Create correct English sentences by dragging the words at the bottom to the correct place in the sentence:

had pottery 
shaped like a funnel
that was  
The builders   
of the Hunebedden  

Slide 26 - Drag question

Create correct English sentences by dragging the words at the bottom to the correct place in the sentence:

to decorate  
used straight lines 
Linear Pottery culture  
their pottery
  People from the   

Slide 27 - Drag question

Write down one question about something from this lesson that you find difficult.

Slide 28 - Open question


Slide 29 - Slide

Slide 30 - Video