did the Neolithic occur? (There are also other hypotheses—you can discuss these too. Also discuss how the Neolithic period affects you personally.)
In class on Thursday I took them through some Neolithic history and then described some of the hypotheses that try to explain why the Neolithic occurred. Even though my area of research is the Roman Empire in the 4th century, and in particular, religious history, I firmly believe that the Neolithic was the most important time period in all of human history. Why? Well, the biggest answer to that is, if the Neolithic people had not discovered farming, civilization would never have occurred. I can sit here and type on my computer, spend the whole day teaching, reading, and writing, and then go to my refrigerator and get something to eat. I do have a garden and I try to grow as much as possible, but I am still reliant on farmers. If farming had never occurred, I would be out foraging for food and looking for water. We are so used to going to the store to get our food without really thinking about where the food actually comes from--although the Farmer Market movement is starting to change that.
So that is the easy part. But asking why it happened or how it happened is more difficult to answer. So that is why we went over three hypotheses--the Oasis, the Nuclear Zone, and the Population Pressure Hypothesis. I love talking about these because it shows how people tackle a problem and how they test their ideas. Of course, these aren't the only hypotheses on why people starting farming, but I find these three the most interesting to talk about.