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How agriculture has changed from early Egypt, Greece, and Rome to the present sample essay

The history of the practice of agriculture can be divided into two different eras – the ancient agriculture and the modern agriculture. Many early civilizations contribute to the knowledge that is harnessed by modern agricultural practice, including those adopted from Egyptian, Roman and Greek agricultural practices.

Egyptian agriculture – The main characteristic of the agricultural practice in Egypt is how Egyptian farmers during the ancient times managed to understand the changing patterns of the season and weather and work their way around it so that they can maximize the entry of each new weather and season and synchronize their agricultural effort with the weather patterns and with the weather changes. Egypt was able to show the rest of the world how a place with hardly any rainfall can still maintain and sustain a very good agricultural practice by the use of the inherent geographical advantages found in the area.

In the case of Egypt, they found sustenance in the Nile River, which played an important role in their early agricultural practices. Like many ancient agricultural practices, Egyptian agriculture during the ancient times depend on agricultural tools like plows and sieves as well as on animals that can make their agricultural activities easier and faster to accomplish, like cattle and ox. Egyptian agriculture also featured their own version of the irrigation, which they called the ‘shaduf’.

Egypt was able to make use of its agricultural products to generate income, usually by selling any excess from agricultural harvests to other countries and neighboring states. Roman agriculture – Roman agriculture was one of the important sections of the global agricultural history that provided different and important usable information some of which are still in use and in practice today while some acted as catalysts for the entry of newer methods and technologies in the practice of agriculture.

While Rome was not in itself the point of origin of the ideas and practices in agriculture which the locals used and practiced owing to the fact that they are greatly influenced by other countries when it comes to the practice of agriculture, Rome nonetheless was an example of a country that blossomed because they were able to use agriculture and maximize its effects.

Underscoring the importance of Roman agriculture is the fact that many writers used the topic of agriculture as the topic of many of their written works. Virgil, Cicero, Cato, Columella, Varro and Palladius spent some of their time by writing on topics that are directly involved in agriculture. The important contribution of Roman agriculture to the modern world is its introduction of many different approaches to farming.

Unlike other ancient countries that exercised farming in just one uniform manner, Roman farming is managed in different ways – there is the traditional farming wherein the members of the family who owned the land were also the direct farmers; there are some farms that is tilled by slaves; there is also the practice of share cropping and lastly the practice of leasing a part of the farm to a tenant. Farm sizes during the Roman times fall in one of the three categories based on size (small, medium and large-sized farms).

Roman farming during the ancient time was commendable for its great understanding of soil quality as the methods and practices during that time allowed for the identification of different kinds of manure that can be used to help improve farming and crop yield. Greek agriculture – The Greeks were very much dependent in their agriculture largely because of the fact that agriculture sustained the people and contributed significantly in their economy that most people during the ancient Greek times were directly involved in different agricultural practices.

Greek agriculture was characterized for its biennial crop rotation. The most common agricultural products during the ancient Greece include cereals, olives, grapes, vegetables and different kinds of herbs. The Greeks focused on their crop yielding activities as much as they put importance in animal husbandry for their meat and dairy products. The Greeks also exercised beekeeping for their supply of honey from which they derive sugar which they use for everyday consumption as well as for medicine.

Greek agriculture was characterized by its use of crop rotation methods as early as the fifth century. The Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras of agriculture had similar characteristics – agriculture was greatly depended for survival; they depend greatly on their farms and used the ability of human strength as well as animal power in the undertaking of strenuous agricultural activities during those times, when agricultural machines and technologies that made farming and agriculture easier are not yet available.

The most important lesson that these era provided is the practice of being able to understand well the terrestrial advantages that a certain area can provide for agriculture, and maximizing it. Rome, Greece and Egypt had some differences in its respective land areas, and yet they were all very successful when it comes to agriculture. While they provided the bedrock of knowledge for agriculture (many of which are still in practice today), there are now many different developments that featured improvements in the manner by which ancient Roman, Greece and Egyptian undertake agricultural activities.

Modern day agriculture – Modern day agriculture is generally characterized by the creation of a formalistic institution that is focused on developing agriculture and enables new ways so that there is an improvement in production and things can be done in an easier manner, like agricultural research, which, according to Schjonning, ‘is an applied science with the main objective of improving production methods and developing production systems’ (p3).

Unlike the ancient times, modern day agriculture is supported by technologies that make work easier, and because of that and because of the diversification of the source of economic sustainability towards other different industries, agriculture saw the decline in number of people that participate in it over time.

Aside from the mechanization of agricultural processes and practices, there are also other technological innovations towards agriculture, like the genetic modifications of crops and advanced food processing techniques. There is also the focus in the use of crops that are not edible but are nonetheless very usable in today’s society, like rubber and animal hide.

References:

Erdkamp, Paul. (November 2005). Grain Market in the Roman Empire: A Social, Politicaland Economic Study. Cambridge University Press Harris, Catherine C. (July 1, 2001). Ancient Egyptian Agriculture. Tour Egypt Monthly. Volume II, Number 7. Retrieved April 20, 2008, from http://www. touregypt. net/magazine/mag07012001/magf5. htm Isager, Signe and Skydsgaard, Jens E. (October 1992). Ancient Greek Agriculture. Taylor & Francis, Inc. P. Schjonning, S. Elmholt, B. T. Christensen. (December 2003). Managing Soil Quality: Challenges in Modern Agriculture.

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