The llama and alpaca were domesticated in the Andean regions of South America by the middle of the 3rd millennium BC.
According to carbon dating, wheat and barley were domesticated in the Middle East in the 8th millennium BC; millet and rice in China and Southeast Asia by 5500 BC; and squash in Mexico about 8000 BC. Legumes found in Thessaly and Macedonia are dated as early as 6000 BC. Flax was grown and apparently woven into textiles early in the Neolithic Period.
The transition from hunting and food gathering to dependence on food production was gradual, and in a few isolated parts of the world this transition has not yet been accomplished. Crops and domestic meat supplies were augmented by fish and wildfowl as well as by the meat of wild animals. The farmer began, most probably, by noting which of the wild plants were edible or otherwise useful and learned to save the seed and to replant it in cleared land. Lengthy cultivation of the most prolific and hardiest plants yielded stable strains. Herds of goats and sheep were assembled from captured young wild animals, and those with the most useful traitsósuch as small horns and high milk productionówere bred. The wild aurochs was the ancestor of European cattle, and an Asian wild ox of the zebu, was the ancestor of the humped cattle of Asia. Cats, dogs, and chickens were also domesticated very early.
Neolithic farmers lived in simple dwellingsócaves and small houses of sunbaked mud brick or reed and wood. These homes were grouped into small villages or existed as single farmsteads surrounded by fields, sheltering animals and humans in adjacent or joined buildings. In the Neolithic Period, the growth of cities such as Jericho (founded about 9000 BC) was stimulated by the production of surplus crops.
Pastoralism (individual country living) may have been a later development. Evidence indicates that mixed farming, combining cultivation of crops and stock raising, was the most common Neolithic pattern. Nomadic herders, however, roamed the steppes of Europe and Asia, where the horse and camel were domesticated.
The earliest tools of the farmer were made of wood and stone. They included the stone adz, an axlike tool with blades at right angles to the handle, used for woodworking; the sickle or reaping knife with sharpened stone blades, used to gather grain; the digging stick, used to plant seeds and, with later adaptations, as a spade or hoe; and a rudimentary plow, a modified tree branch used to scratch the surface of the soil and prepare it for planting.