Was Agriculture Impossible during the Pleistocene but Mandatory during the Holocene? A Climate Change Hypothesis

  title={Was Agriculture Impossible during the Pleistocene but Mandatory during the Holocene? A Climate Change Hypothesis},
  author={Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd and Robert L Bettinger},
  journal={American Antiquity},
  pages={387 - 411}
Several independent trajectories of subsistence intensification, often leading to agriculture, began during the Holocene. No plant-rich intensifications are known from the Pleistocene, even from the late Pleistocene when human populations were otherwise quite sophisticated. Recent data from ice and ocean-core climate proxies show that last glacial climates were extremely hostile to agriculture—dry, low in atmospheric CO2, and extremely variable on quite short time scales. We hypothesize that… 
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OUR present climate is relatively stable compared to that of the Last Glacial Maximum about 20,000 years ago. Palaeoclimate records obtained from ice cores1,2 and deep-sea sediment cores3 for the
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Was low atmospheric CO2 during the Pleistocene a limiting factor for the origin of agriculture
  • R. Sage
  • Biology, Environmental Science
  • 1995
The results indicate that increases in productivity following the late Pleistocene rise in CO2 may have been substantial enough to have affected human subsistence patterns in ways that promoted the development of agriculture.