Agriculture: The Invention of Irrigation

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Irrigation is a system of artificially delivering water to crops in order to promote their growth. It is a practice that has been used for thousands of years and has had a profound impact on societies around the world.

The origins of irrigation can be traced back to ancient civilizations in the Middle East and North Africa, where people would use simple techniques such as diverting river water into fields. Over time, more sophisticated systems were developed, including canals and reservoirs, allowing for the irrigation of larger areas of land.

The invention of irrigation had a profound impact on society, as it allowed societies to increase their population. By allowing for the cultivation of crops on a much larger scale than was previously possible, food production increased which led to a surplus of food that allowed families to feed more mouths and thus grow larger. For society, this meant a larger population. Irrigation also enabled crops to be grown in areas with low rainfall or in regions prone to drought, reducing the risk of crop failure and increasing food security, thereby decreasing the risk of starvation.

In addition to its impact on food production, irrigation also played a role in the development of civilizations, as it also further complexified division of labor within them. The construction and maintenance of irrigation systems required organization, cooperation, and a division of labor, leading to the formation of complex societies and the development of specialized professions. Gradually, societies started to see a clear distinction between farmers who produced food and the builders and designers that provided the infrastructure necessary for the farmers to do so. It is suspected that this distinction served as a foundation for further diversification of the job market. Irrigation might have paved the way for other specializations such as construction and architecture and  to be readily accepted as worthwhile full-time roles in society.

Overall, the invention of irrigation had a significant impact on society and played a crucial role in the development of agriculture and the growth of civilizations, through a rise in population and division of labor. 

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