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  • Imagine someone coming into your kitchen and taking a few tools, a pan and your garbage.

  • Then they bury everything in the woods. 12,000 years later an archeologist is trying to figure who you were.

  • What was important to you, what video games you played, what you believed in

  • and what informed your decisions. Because you happened to live during a remarkable time in human history:

  • The Planetary Revolution, when humanity transitioned, becoming a multiplanetary species.

  • In that time, our numbers would explode by orders of magnitude, our technology and standard of living would improve to levels previously thought impossible

  • and our self conception would change forever. And all the future archaeologist has to learn about is your junk in the woods.

  • While we can only hope this will be someone's problem in 12,000 years, we have the same problem today.

  • We are trying to reconstruct a revolution that took place 12,000 years ago.

  • Today, only shadows remain of the people who experienced our distant past as their present.

  • What Remains from our past

  • We can look at our present in crispy 4K, in color and sound.

  • Three generations ago the world was just black and white.

  • One more generation and we see the world through blurred photographs.

  • Further back paintings and texts become our main way of experiencing the past.

  • A mere 20 generations before us today, every written word had to be copied by hand

  • and reports became more scarce and less reliable.

  • The first historian lived a mere 100 generations ago.

  • Before him, there are only epics and legends and dead kings bragging on pieces of stone.

  • 250 generations ago there are only fragments left in the ground and images stripped of their original meaning.

  • Eventually humanity becomes basically invisible.

  • Still, we do know some things about our ancestors.

  • Let's try to tell their story and what it means for us today.

  • #1 The Greatest Transition in Human History

  • For some two million years or roughly 80,000 generations, the life of our ancestors was basically the same.

  • It was around 20,000 years, or 800 generations ago that the behaviorally modern humans began a process

  • that would change our lifestyle forever.

  • At first, gradually, for some of us. Then faster for more of us. And then suddenly for almost all of us.

  • Back then there were about one million modern humans on earth.

  • Most other human species had died out, probably with a little help from us.

  • Our ancestors' biology had given them the necessary tools: ,

  • A general intelligence to understand things a social intelligence to understand each other

  • and language to express abstract ideas and create new concepts.

  • These were people just like you. They suffered and experienced joy, were bored, cried and laughed.

  • They lived in communities of a few dozen people.

  • They controlled fire and had tools made from wood, stone and bone,

  • told stories, mourned their dead and created art.

  • They traded with other tribes, from obsidian to shellfish.

  • Some hunted big game and were very mobile, others relied more on plants they collected

  • and others mostly stayed in one area with an abundance of seafood.

  • This was the common state of humanity for most of our history.

  • Until a slow transition, step by step, turned into a revolution.

  • #2 Step by Step

  • The first solid evidence for this stems from the Jordan Valley,

  • where our ancestors collected wild wheat more than 20,000 years ago.

  • They noticed that seeds in the ground made more plants the next year.

  • If they put good ones in one place, the next year they had more of the good ones.

  • This was a great supplement to hunting and gathering.

  • You could prepare some crops, return next year, build a temporary settlement and have a secure food supply.

  • Our ancestors used these bonus crops to bake the first bread and to brew the first beer.

  • With every generation, they gathered deeper knowledge about the plants and animals around them

  • and how to manipulate them to their advantage.

  • But there was a lot to learn.

  • Very slowly, from generation to generation pockets of knowledge expanded

  • and were passed along to be expanded again.

  • This early agriculture started to drastically reduce the space our ancestors needed to feed one individual.

  • Which made it possible to stay in one place longer.

  • Around 12,000 years ago these little pieces of progress had reached a critical mass.

  • Most of the calories we consume today stem from about 15 different founder crops

  • that humans began to domesticate in earnest in the next few thousand years.

  • What we call the agricultural revolution was not a thing that began suddenly one day.

  • It was a slow process driven by small groups over many generations.

  • Eventually gradual change gave rise to a new era.

  • #3 The Human Era.

  • During the next few thousand years, progress would speed up and turn hunter gatherers into farmers

  • who lived in villages, towns and then cities.

  • When farmers moved into new areas they replaced the nomadic tribes or turned them into farmers too.

  • This was neither easy nor painless.

  • In the early days people had a diverse diet made of up to 250 different plants and animals.

  • For some of the groups transitioning to agriculture the variation in their diets declined drastically

  • and some even seem to have been undernourished.

  • And living close together and with animals created a breeding ground for disease.

  • Virtually every infectious disease caused by microorganisms that have adapted to humans arose in the last 10,000 years.

  • Cholera, smallpox, measles, influenza, chickenpox and malaria.

  • Mortality, especially among children, rose drastically.

  • Still, our numbers grew because living in the same place enabled women to bear far more children than before

  • and for a farmer more kids mean more hands to work the fields.

  • Even with more people dying younger, villages and towns grew. The number of humans on earth exploded.

  • About 100 generations after the beginning of the Human era, there were already four million of us.

  • This increased the need for food and forced people to come up with ever more efficient ways of producing calories -

  • solidifying our new lifestyle.

  • Going back to hunting and gathering would just have meant death by starvation for most.

  • One question remains unanswered: Why?

  • Why would people exchange the freedom of living off nature with a huge variety in food for the grind of agriculture and often more limited diets?

  • Nobody knows for sure. Climate change seems to have made the transition possible

  • and some scientists argue that it was caused by external factors like undernourishment or overpopulation,

  • both highly contested.

  • Today the most widely accepted idea is that it was a deliberate choice, made by countless communities around the globe.

  • Maybe it is also connected with what makes us human.

  • The ability to come together, develop shared identities and exchange stories and knowledge.

  • Some archaeologists think that groups of hunter gatherers traveled long and far to celebrate, to hold feasts and rituals.

  • They would have used these occasions to talk about their version of innovation:

  • better hunting and tool making techniques, how to catch and breed animals and which plants could be collected and multiplied,

  • maybe they even exchanged seeds.

  • It is not unlikely that these gatherings were the catalysts that spread the knowledge of agriculture

  • through the many isolated groups of humanity.

  • Ultimately ending a lifestyle that was common to our species for thousands of generations.

  • So by being able to come together, celebrate, share and learn from one another,

  • these humans might have taken the steps that lead to our modern world and we have much to be grateful for.

  • We are still the same humans today, even if it often doesn't feel that way.

  • Maybe it is time to come together to share what we know and celebrate our existence once again,

  • to begin another peaceful transition, maybe the planetary revolution, that will change everything once more.

  • So hopefully, in another 12,000 years, our descendants will look back on us today with gratitude,

  • for the amazing world they are able to inhabit.

  • To celebrate the achievements of our ancestors in the last 12,000 years and to look with hope towards the next 12,000

  • we present you with the fifth Human Era Calendar for the year 12,021 -

  • this time it is all about the journey of humanity, beginning tens of thousands of years ago,

  • leading into the revolution in agriculture, to ancient high civilizations and the beginning of modern times,

  • culminating in a vision for our future.

  • You can get the limited Edition now until we sell out and then never again.

  • As always the calendar features 12 illustrated pages printed on high quality paper in Europe and the US.

  • And this year the cover is especially shiny.

  • Not only does the calendar look great on walls and makes it easier to dream about a glorious future and realize how far we have come as a species.

  • It is also the best way to support kurzgesagt. The calendar enables us to put in the time our videos need and release them for free, for everyone.

  • If you want, you can get the calendar with a Hoodie or infographic posters or plushie. We've made a few deals for you.

  • Thank you so much to the thousands of people who get the calendar every year and to the birbs who love what we try to do on this channel.

  • We wish you a happy year 12,021 – And let's all hope that it will be less exciting than 12,020!

Imagine someone coming into your kitchen and taking a few tools, a pan and your garbage.

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B1 US calendar revolution agriculture human humanity transition

When Time Became History - The Human Era

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    OolongCha posted on 2020/10/12
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