The development of agriculture has often been described as the most important change in all of human history. Volume 2 of the Cambridge World History series explores the origins and impact of agriculture and agricultural communities, and also discusses issues associated with pastoralism and hunter-fisher-gatherer ecomies. To capture the patterns of this key change across the globe, the volume uses an expanded timeframe from 12,000 BCE-500 CE, beginning with the Neolithic and continuing into later periods. Scholars from a range of disciplines, including archaeology, historical linguistics, biology, anthropology, and history, trace common developments in the more complex social structures and cultural forms that agriculture enabled, such as sedentary villages and more elaborate foodways, and then present a series of regional overviews accompanied by detailed case studies from many different parts of the world, including Southwest Asia, South Asia, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, and Europe.
Graeme Barker is Disney Professor of Archaeology, Director of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and Professorial Fellow, St John's College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory and Prehistoric Farming in Europe (Cambridge University Press, 1985). Candice Goucher is a Professor of History at Washington State University, Vancouver. She studied Chemistry and Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego (BA, 1975), Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University (MA, 1978), and African History at the University of California at Los Angeles (PhD, 1984). As an undergraduate, she pioneered the use of lead isotope analysis to identify ancient sources of metals, research published in Nature. Trained as an archaeologist, Candice Goucher has conducted archaeological and historical research in the Caribbean, Mauritius, and West Africa, where she worked with Merrick Posnansky at the site of Begho in Brong Ahafo, Ghana, and in the Bassari region of Togo. Her research interests have continued to forge interdisciplinary and global links in the areas of food studies, technology, culture and gender. With Linda Walton, she published several world history textbooks, including the second edition of World History: Journeys from Past to Present (2013) and was co-lead scholar on the Annenberg/Corporation for Public Broadcasting multimedia project Bridging World History. Her recent book Congotay! Congotay! A Global History of Caribbean Food (2014) examined Caribbean agriculture, culture and cuisine from ancient to modern times.