Elise Boulding in her article, Women and the Agricultural Revolution, argues thatwomen played a key role in initiating the Agricultural Revolution. She defines therevolution as happening within two stages: horticulture and Agriculture Essay proper. Womenhad a prominent role within the earlier form, horticulture.
Horticulture is defined asfarming for subsistence only. Womens roles on the farm were not as dominant as societygrew to farming for surplus instead. Boulding begins the article by discussing the shiftsociety made from wandering nomads to settled villagers. She explains that it was womenwho recognized that plants could be easily domesticated.
It was because of thedomestication of plants that people decided to eventually settle down. In doing so, theearly settlers exchanged the fairly simplistic nomadic life to that of a hard-working farmer. Throughout the essay, Boulding emphasizes the role women played in initiating thisrevolutionary shift. She describes the main duties women had and the status they heldwithin a horticulture society. However, this changed as the purpose of farming shifted toAccording to Boulding, womens influence on the Agricultural Revolution beganvery early on. Women had recognized the significance of einkorn, a nutritious plant thatwas easy to cultivate.
It was because of women recognizing that plants could bedomesticated that nomads were introduced to farming. They slowly decided to settle inareas where einkorn and other food sources grew. In the early stages of the settled life, women exercised an important share on thefarm. They did much of the planting and gathering, and Boulding states that womenprobably even constructed the mud-houses in the early villages.
In this horticulturesociety, children also helped women. They carryed out many chores on the farm, such astaking care of animals and gathering grain. These roles would change as farming shiftedAt horticulture stage, the farming of these early people was for the purpose ofproviding enough food for the family. In these farms, women were able to farm the landswithout much aid. Instead, they used simple small hand tools to do the work. However,once the farms grew in size and they had a surplus of food, they required more help.
Gradually, as the farms grew, there was a shift from merely farming to provide for thefamily, to farming for economic profit as well. As a result, Boulding argues that womenwere no longer the main workers on the farm. Women continued to help the development of the Agricultural Revolution despitetheir role change. Originally, women used digging sticks for gathering, planting, andgrowing plants. As the farming purpose changed, however, the tools changed as well.
The plow and animals were used for cultivation, making women less visible on the field. Yet, women continued to help by creating baskets and discovering pottery, all of whichThe importance of women during this time period was reflected on their statuswithin their society. Many of the tribes were “matrilocal”, the eldest women and herchildren held much of the familys property. The power was held with the women.
Inaddition, the men lived separately from the women and children. Yet as farming changedto agriculture proper, the homes were combined and there were more interactions betweenAccording to Boulding, women were fundamental in initiating the AgriculturalRevolution. The author describes the many contributions women made during the thisrevolution and the impact that they had on society.Boulding makes it clear that womenwere highly influential players in the transformation of the nomadic society to theagricultural one, but their role became less obvious when society shifted from a lifestyle offarming for sustenance to one that farmed for economic profit.