The Neolithic Revolution
We know very little of exactly what happened a very long time ago, and archaeologists try to look at processes and long-term changes rather than famous events and people. One of the things archaeologists are very interested in is what we call the “Neolithic Revolution”.
The theory is that at some time in the Neolithic period, people’s lifestyles began to change. Until this time, most of the settlements that we find are seasonal so people were not living here all the time – they may only have used this site in Summer when there was plenty of food around.
We call this style of life “hunter-gathering”, which means that people were relying on natural food resources, hunting animals and gathering fruits, plants or vegetables to eat. However, by the end of the Neolithic period settlement sites seem much more permanent, and there is evidence that people were using domesticated sources of food – not just taming and keeping animals, but also growing their own grain, fruit and vegetables.
To become a settled farmer requires a very different sort of society to a hunter-gatherer. People might have started to produce extra food to sell, they might have become more specialised at certain tasks, they might have begun to form more solid communities.
This change doesn’t happen as suddenly in Essex, but seems to take a lot longer, and archaeologists have lots of possible reasons for this. Basically though, we don’t know – what do you think?