Agriculture in Mesoamerica
dates to the Archaic
period of Mesoamerican chronology
(8000–2000 BC). At the beginning of the Archaic period, the Early Hunters of the late Pleistocene era (50,000–10,000 BC) led nomadic lifestyles, relying on hunting and gathering for sustenance. However, the nomadic lifestyle that dominated the late Pleistocene and the early Archaic slowly transitioned into a more sedentary lifestyle as the hunter gatherer
micro-bands in the region began to cultivate wild plants. The cultivation of these plants provided security to the Mesoamericans, allowing them to increase surplus of "starvation
foods" near seasonal camps; this surplus could be utilized when hunting was bad, during times of drought
, and when resources were low. The cultivation of plants could have been started purposefully, or by accident. The former could have been done by bringing a wild plant closer to a camp site, or to a frequented area, so it was easier access and collect. The latter could have happened as certain plant seeds were eaten and not fully digested, causing these plants to grow wherever human habitation would take them.
As the Archaic period progressed, cultivation
of plant foods became increasingly important to the people of Mesoamerica. The reliability of cultivated plants allowed hunting and gathering micro-bands to establish permanent settlements and to increase in size. These larger settlements required a greater quantity of food, consequently leading to an even greater reliance on domesticated crops. Eventually, the Mesoamerican people established a sedentary lifestyle based on plant domestication and cultivation
, supplemented with small game hunting. This sedentary lifestyle reliant on agriculture allowed permanent settlements to grow into villages and provided the opportunity for division of labor and social stratification. Read more...