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Tide Gates and the Neolithic Revolution

March 16, 2013

This paper presents a theory regarding the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture, otherwise known as the Neolithic Revolution. I refer to this new theory as: The Enlightened Neolithic Engineer Theory.

Roughly 10,000 years ago a Homo sapiens with a clever idea and the power of persuasion envisioned a revolutionary device known as a “tide gate”. The fabrication of a crude but effective culvert and tide gate along with the construction of a small levee on a flood plain by a clan of hunter-gatherers–at the right place–were integral to a very productive primordial Neolithic fam. The economic success of this farm led to larger and more farms, societal organization, more food, more people, and, in time, ancient civilizations.

Anthropologists, archeologists, and economists have proposed a number of theories to explain why the Neolithic Revolution began approximately 10,000 years ago. None of these theories are particularly persuasive or compelling–or widely accepted.

Civil engineering can be thought of as the engineering of the infrastructure of civilization. As a civil engineer, I have a perspective that is unorthodox compared to the musings of anthropologists, archaeologists, and economists. I also have an expertise in a somewhat obscure realm within engineering–specifically: flood control, tide gates, levees, and drainage.

I wrote a paper on the topic that sets up my arguement Read it below or on!

Jeff Juel, P.E.