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【English/日本語】Read an English book📖英語の本を読もう📚Sapiens―chapter#5 Began Agriculture

英語でSapiens を読もう📖#5


For English learners!

Hello everyone, how’s your English learning journey going?😃 Reading an English book is sometimes a long journey. You might inadvertently stop if you are alone. But no worries. You are at the right place already. I would like to explore an English book here so that you can try reading the book with me. We are not alone. Let’s enjoy a fun time reading!

The book, which I picked up this time, is called Sapiens, published by Yuval Noah Harari. The Amazon Kindle link below allows you to read up to chapter 3. Today, I am covering chapter.5.

You can check out my recommending strategy of reading with a link below.

Okay then, let’s get started📖






Ch.5 History’s Biggest Fraud

第5章 農耕がもたらした繁栄と悲劇

Grasp the structure!🦧構成を把握する

To grasp the chapter, you just try to see its hierarchical configuration. I strongly recommend drawing it either physically or virtually.


How it was begun?

Old believed theory:
  • Agriculture spread from a single Middle Eastern point to the four corners of the world. ➡️ ✖
Today’s theory:
  • Agriculture sprang up in some parts of the world entirely independently. It erupted somewhere happened to have a few suitable domesticated species, such as the Middle East, China, and Central America and spread far and wide. By the first century, the vast majority of Sapiens were agriculturists.

Agriculture is good or bad?

It is a great leap:
  • scholars once proclaimed that the agricultural revolution was a great leap forward for humanity. Intelligent human brain power enabled them to tame sheep and cultivate wheat in order to abandon grueling, dangerous, spartan hunter-gatherer’s life.
    • advantage 1: village life certainly brought some immediate benefits, such as better protection against wild animals, rain, and cold.
    • advantage 2: it provided much more food per unit of territory, and it enabled them to multiply exponentially.
It was a terrible catastrophe:
  • it is not a great leap, rather, plants domesticated Sapiens and manipulated them. Wheat forced humans to settle permanently. The essence of Agricultural Revolution: the ability to keep more people alive under worse conditions.
    • disadvantage 1: It brought about a plethora of ailments, such as slipped discs, arthritis, and hernias since human’s body was not evolved for agricultural tasks.
    • disadvantage 2: wheat is poor in mineral and vitamins, hard to digest, and bad for teeth and gums. While about 13,000 B.C., a hundred relatively healthy well nourished people were in a village, about 8500 B.C., a thousand cramped people suffered from disease and malnutrition.
    • disadvantage 3: it provided less economic security. While foragers relied on dozens of species to survive, and therefore they could weather difficult years without stocks of preserved food, farming societies relied on a single staple, and it added up the risk of famine since agriculture is affected by a lot of natural phenomenon.
    • disadvantage 4: it let human more violent because farmers had more possessions and needed to protect land for planting. Extra food turned out to trigger conflict between bands.
      • ex.) In Ecuador, perhaps 50% of adult male meet a violent death at the hands of another human!


How did Sapiens begin agriculture?
  • It began when when global warming happened, which was ideal for wheat. Then Sapiens gradually gave up their nomadic lifestyle. They discovered efficient work and had less time to gather and hunt. The population began to grow. Farmers lifestyle passed over through generations. The small improvements they made, paradoxically added up to a millstone around the necks.
Why such a fateful miscalculation?
  • Because they were unable to fathom the full consequences of their decisions. They were incapable of neither foreseeing, remembering that previous generations lifestyle, nor returning back that lifestyle due to demographic growth. It still continues today. Luxuries, the search for an easier life, become necessities and spawn new obligations.
    • ex.) Compared to mail, email makes people’s lives more anxious and agitated.
  • Because population growth gave farmers’ sheer weight of numbers and it allowed them to overcome foragers easily.


Foundings in Göbekli Tepe.

Founding 1:
  • Monumental pillared structures(worth a huge amount of effort and time). It showed the capabilities of ancient foragers, and the complexity of their cultures.
Founding 2:
  • There was neither signs of a settlement nor utilitarian purpose. It dates to about 9500 B.C., and it means Sapiens had pre-agricultural society.
Founding 3:
  • Einkorn wheat, one domesticated wheat variant, turned out to be originated originated in the Karaçadag Hills – about thirty kilometres from Göbekli Tepe. This means initial domestication of wheat occurred when Sapiens had been building the temple since construction required large quantities of food. The temple may have been built first. It may well be that foragers switched from gathering wild wheat to intense wheat cultivation, not to increase their normal food supply, but rather to support the building and running of a temple.


How did Sapiens domesticate animals?

The primal domestication:
  • selective hunting: hunt only adult rams in order to safeguard the long-term vitality of the local herd ➡️ Result: sheep became fatter, more submissive, and less curious in the evolutionary process.
  • corralling into a narrow gorge: defend the heard against predators.
  • tailing: use their skin for humans needs.
  • exploitation of animals: use animals for muscle power: tasks such as transportation, ploughing, grinding, etc.
    • bridling animals in harness and leashes
    • training them with whips and cattle prods
    • mutilating them for restrains male aggression and control of the herd’s procreation.
      • ex.) in New Guinean society and in Nuer tribe in the Sudan. They slice off a chunk of pig’s nose in order not to let them sniff, therefore pigs cannot find food or even find their way around, and this makes pigs completely dependent on humans owner.
Today’s domestication:
  • population of chickens, cattle, pigs and sheep exploded; it was a big boon for chickens, cattle, pigs and sheep: a million (10,000 years ago) ➡️ a billion (today), by the criteria of survival and reproduction. The price is subjugation to a way of life completely alien to their urges and desires. It is full of suffering and endures.
    • price 1: their procreation is completely controlled.
    • price 2: lifespan is shortened to the minimum.
    • price 3: natural instincts, social ties are broken.
    • price 4: their aggression and sexuality are contained.
    • price 5: their freedom of movement are curtailed.

But, human affection gives animals great care, do they?

Humans showed affection for their animals. This affection could be seen between kings and their peasants as well as between slaveholders and slaves.

Sheep raised for wool, pet dogs and cats, war horses, and racehorses often enjoyed comfortable conditions.

Agricultural Revolution’s two narratives.

Plants’ narrative: make sense
  • Wheat and maize succeed and spread exponentially globally. Their evolutionary success is meaningful.
    • 10,000 years ago: it was just a wild grass, one of many, confined to a small range in the Middle East.
    • Today: wheat covers about 2.25 million square kilometres of the globes surface.
Animals’ narrative: make no sense
  • Population exploding animals
    • Each animal has a complex world of sensations and emotions. However, evolutionary success neither help individual quality of life nor translates into individual experience.
  • Extinct dangerous animals
    • A rare wild animal on the brink of extinction probably have more a satisfied life.


Summarize the chapter concisely🦧章をかんたんにまとめる

To summarize, check the hierarchical configuration and make sentences with important points of each.


In contrast that other Homos prospered as foragers for 2,500,00 years, Sapiens, who had the Cognitive Revolution, began agriculture about 10,000 years ago. It might have been motivated by the desire for an easier life or some religious or ideological culture. Along with the Agricultural Revolution, the domestication of animals expanded. In a way, it can be described that plants, which exploded to spread globally thanks to Agricultural Revolution, domesticated Sapiens, since Sapiens’ lives have become worse compared to the one as a forager while they exploited animals and let animals lives miserable.


Make five questions to discuss🦧5つの質問を作る

To discuss, make questions. It gives you a great topic to talk about in English.


Evaluative question 評価的質問

How effective is the presentation in whole or in part? Why did the speaker/author make these choices and how well do they work?

Many possible answers can be found outside of the presentation but it’s a reference.



My opinion: Considering the fact that other Homos prospered for 2,500,000 years as foragers, the Cognitive Revolution made difference crucially between other Homos and Sapiens. If so, it is convincing that the fictive language, which was born from the Cognitive Revolution, drove Sapiens to do something different even though they had ample food and rich social structures.


Expressions and terms🦧覚えておきたい単語・表現

Pick some terms that you are unfamiliar with from sentences you high-lightened and memorize them because you need them to discuss this chapter!!


termexample sentence
domesticateSapiens did not domesticate wheat. It domesticated us.
multiply Cultivating wheat enabled Sapiens to multiply exponentially.
backfireWhy didn’t Sapiens abandon farming when the plan backfired?
necessitateOur habits necessitate luxuries so easily and spawn new obligations that our lives become harder to fulfill the obligations.
termexample sentences

The book introduced a very interesting painting from an Egyptian grave. It had a pair of oxen ploughing a field with a hunched position of the Egyptian farmer. It described not only the miserable oxen’s life but also the miserable Sapiens’ life, in which he devoted his life in hard labor oppressive to his body, his mind, and his social relationship. This painting seems to convince us that Sapiens are domesticated by plants. Please take a look!


By the way, the Japanese translation of this chapter is also as disappointing as the previous chapter. This chapter’s title has a significance that how it is important for people to see our behaviors differently, otherwise we will end up having the disastrous consequence by the third wave. Why didn’t Sapiens abandon farming when the plan backfired? Because they don’t have the capability of seeing anything wrong!? That would end the game!!🥲