Harman describes how the history of humans was shaped and created. It is spoken about as a narrative of ordinary people forming and re-forming complex societies in pursuit of common human goals. Speaking about how change and new technological ideas are created, as well as the impact of powerful individuals and revolutionary ideas.
These societies have gone through events that are relatable to even present-day topics, from the empires of antiquity to the world wars of the twentieth century. He speaks about the earliest empires and how they affect the world. The first big changes in people’s lives and ideas began to occur only about 10,000 years ago. People took up a new way of making a livelihood in certain parts of the world, especially in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ region of the Middle East.
Harman spoke much about this. He states that they learned to cultivate crops instead of relying upon nature to provide them with vegetables, and to domesticate animals instead of simply hunting them (Harman). This new way of living and surviving truly impacted the future and how future societies may live in a positive way. The transformation did not necessarily lead these people to have an easier life, however, than their forebears.
But climatic changes gave some of them a very limited choice. They had gotten used to life in areas where conditions had many supplies of wild plant food and animals to hunt (in one area in south east Turkey a ‘family group’ could, ‘without working very hard’, gather enough grain from wild cereals in three weeks to keep them alive for a year).
This was a major change because of thousands and thousands of years, they had lived in a very different way. This new way of living, however, did not need to be continually on the move like other people did. They had been able to live in the same places year after year.
This transformed their former rough “homes” into permanent village settlements numbering hundreds rather than dozens of people. It even stored food and supplies in stone or baked clay pots. It accumulated a range of advanced and useful stone tools. For a period of time, greater than from the foundation of ancient Rome to the present day, they had been able to combine the low workloads typical of foraging societies with the advantages of fixed village life.
The “New Stone Age” suddenly turned to agriculture. This transformed people’s lives, spreading village living. To this extent, it was almost a “revolution”. However, society still lacked most of the elements we take for granted in present day class divisions; the establishment of permanent state systems based on full time bureaucrats and bodies of armed men.
None of these things had risen before. They would not do so until there was a second time of change in which the way people gained a livelihood, often considered an “urban revolution” was introduced to the “neolithic revolution”. These changes of life were in general positive effects, according to Harman.