About 5,000 years ago another technological revolution came starting in the Middle East that in the end will transform most of the world. This was the discovery of agriculture, the technology of large-scale farming using ploughs harnessed to animals or more powerful energy sources. The social significance of the animal-drawn plough and other technological innovations of the period clearly indicated the arrival of a new kind of society.
While horticulturalists spend their days working small-sized plots, agriculturalists with animal-drawn ploughs were already able to cultivate way much bigger areas. This kind of new technology encouraged agrarian societies to farm the same land for decades, which led to humanity’s first permanent settlements.
As we already saw before, increasing production meant greater specialisation. Tasks that were performed in the past by everyone now became distinct occupations. Here it was the time where the invention of money exchange came into the play and replaced barter trade system. This appearance of money facilitated trade, helped cities to grow as economic centres with populations reaching millions of people.
As we already saw, the increasing specialization and ability to keep surplus materials sparked the fire of inequalities. Agrarian societies are no exception – people lived in dramatic social inequality. In many cases, peasants or slaves constitute a significant share of the population and labour for elites. Freed from manual work, elites can then devote their time to studying philosophy, art and literature.
When it comes to gender equality – among the hunters and gatherers, and horticulturists, women were the primary food providers. The development of agriculture, however, has put men into a position of social dominance.
Religion was used to reinforce the power of agricultural elites. Religious doctrine typically propounds the idea that people are morally obligated to perform whatever tasks correspond to their place in the social order.