Both in what is now the eastern and the southwestern United States, the peoples of
the Archaic era (8,000-1,000 B.C) were, in a way, already adapted to beginnings of
cultivation through their intensive gathering and processing of wild plant foods. In both
areas, there was a well-established ground stone tool technology, a method of pounding
(5)and grinding nuts and other plant foods, that could be adapted to newly cultivated foods.
By the end of the Archaic era, people in eastern North America had domesticated certain
native plants, including sunflowers; weeds called goosefoot, sumpweed, or marsh elder;
and squash or gourds of some kind. These provided seeds that were important sources of carbohydrates and fat in the diet.
(10) The earliest cultivation seems to have taken place along the river valleys of the
Midwest and the Southeast, with experimentation beginning as early as 7,000 years ago
and domestication beginning 4,000 to 2,000 years ago. Although the term “Neolithic” is
not used in North American prehistory, these were the first steps toward the same major subsistence changes that took place during the Neolithic (8,000-2,000 B.C.) period
(15)elsewhere in the world.
Archaeologists debate the reasons for beginning cultivation in the eastern part of the
continent. Although population and sedentary living were increasing at the time, there is
little evidence that people lacked adequate wild food resources; the newly domesticated
foods supplemented a continuing mixed subsistence of hunting, fishing, and gathering
(20)wild plants, Increasing predictability of food supplies may have been a motive. It has been suggested that some early cultivation was for medicinal and ceremonial plants rather than
for food. One archaeologist has pointed out that the early domesticated plants were all
weedy species that do well in open, disturbed habitats, the kind that would form around
human settlements where people cut down trees, trample the ground, deposit trash, and
(25)dig holes. It has been suggested that sunflower, sumpweed, and other plants almost
domesticated themselves, that is , they thrived in human –disturbed habitats, so humans intensively collected them and began to control their distribution. Women in the Archaic communities were probably the main experimenters with cultivation, because
ethnoarchaeological evidence tells us that women were the main collectors of plant food
and had detailed knowledge of plants.
【Group】12 According to the passage, when did the domestication of plants begin in North America?
(A) 7,000 years ago
(B) 4,000 to 2,000 years ago
(C) Long after the Neolithic period
(D) Before the Archaic period
Hunting is at best a precarious way of procuring food, even when the diet is supplemented with
seeds and fruits. Not long after the last Ice Age, around 7,000 B.C. (during the Neolithic period),
some hunters and gatherers began to rely chiefly on agriculture for their sustenance. Others
continued the old pastoral and nomadic ways. Indeed, agriculture itself evolved over the course of
(5) time, and Neolithic peoples had long known how to grow crops. The real transformation of human
life occurred when huge numbers of people began to rely primarily and permanently on the grain
they grew and the animals they domesticated.
Agriculture made possible a more stable and secure life. With it Neolithic peoples flourished,
fashioning an energetic, creative era. They were responsible for many fundamental inventions and
(10)innovations that the modern world takes for granted. First, obviously, is systematic agriculture---
that is, the reliance of Neolithic peoples on agriculture as their primary, not merely subsidiary,
source of food.
Thus they developed the primary economic activity of the entire ancient world and the basis of all
modern life. With the settled routine of Neolithic farmers came the evolution of towns and
(15)eventually cities. Neolithic farmers usually raised more food than they could consume, and their
surpluses permitted larger, healthier populations. Population growth in turn created an even
greater reliance on settled farming, as only systematic agriculture could sustain the increased
numbers of people. Since surpluses o food could also be bartered for other commodities, the
Neolithic era witnessed the beginnings of large-scale exchange of goods. In time the increasing
(20)complexity of Neolithic societies led to the development of writing, prompted by the need to keep
records and later by the urge to chronicle experiences, learning, and beliefs.
The transition to settled life also had a profound impact on the family. The shared needs and
pressures that encourage extended-family ties are less prominent in settled than in nomadic
societies. Bonds to the extended family weakened. In towns and cities, the nuclear family was
(25)more dependent on its immediate neighbors than on kinfolk.
【Group】 1. What does the passage mainly discuss?
(A) Why many human societies are dependent on agriculture
(B) the changes agriculture brought to human life
(C) How Neolithic peoples discovered agriculture
(D) Why the first agricultural societies failed
【Group】10. Which of the following is true about the human diet prior to the Neolithic period?
(A) It consisted mainly of agricultural products
(B) It varied according to family size.
(C) It was based on hunting and gathering.
(D) It was transformed when large numbers of people no longer depended on the grain they grew