Abstract and Keywords
The traditional focus of agricultural history has been the study of rural landscapes, societies, and economies, as well as agricultural production and technologies. In contrast, environmental history has adopted a more interdisciplinary research approach, offering both ecological and political analyses, and addressing the world's current environmental crises from a historical perspective. Drawing on the environmental perspective, this article explores the development of human food production. Subsistence has been an important part of history from the earliest times to the advent of modern, industrial agriculture. The seasonal migrations of gathering and hunting peoples were based on their procurement of food. Although the emergence of farming and herding led to the rise of urban, elite classes specializing in other activities, food production remained the focus of the vast majority of people in agrarian empires. This article investigates the transitions between three basic modes of production: what I. G. Simmons has called the distinct "cultural ecologies" of gatherer-hunter, agrarian, and industrial societies.
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