Continued from the Paleolithic or Emo Stone Age
After the confusion of the Esoteric Age (or Middle Stone Age), things got really strange. The Neolithic (or New Stone Age) is known for the “Neolithic Revolution”, in which humans started to give up their earlier hunter-gatherer lifestyle in exchange for farming. Many experts still think this was a mistake, though it did eventually lead to the Bronze Age and improved beard-grooming implements.
Some researchers are still trying to figure out why human beings would give up the free existence of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle for the unending toil necessary for successful farming, but they’ve obviously never met anyone with a Protestant work ethic and a deep suspicion of the human body’s naughty bits.
Of course, the cultivation of grains could lead to food surpluses, but these benefits were sometimes offset by bad harvests and an increase in disease. Some believe that humans started farming for another, more compelling reason:
Some researchers will refer to this as the “beer theory of history”, but it is really just an antecedent to the Beard Theory of History, which is much more important because it is capitalized (and not in quotation marks). (Grammatically, CAPITALS kick “quotations'” ass, and (brackets) are just kind of embarrassed to be there.) Still, the “beer theory of history” is a compelling idea — the notion that we gave up hunting because of beer. This new sedentary way of life is where our current 21st century obesity “epidemic” began. (And is certainly a contributing factor for the “epidemic” striking the population of humor writers.)
In addition to farming, the Neolithic brought us home renovation. Before the Neolithic “Revolution”, we were happy to live in caves, mossy ditches and an assortment of bark-lined nests. But after the Neolithic “Revolution” we had to start building permanent dwellings, with “features” and “amenities”. Home improvement shows would begin soon thereafter. It was the downside of beer.
We also started domesticating animals. Paleontologists believe we had already domesticated dogs, but it was during the Neolithic Age that humans began to keep animals for more than their companionship and their inspiring ability to lick themselves. Some have suggested that this control over nature led humans to believe they could control other humans. Others have suggested that increasing population densities, specialized occupations and more complex societies called for a ruling class.
In either case, this is called civilization.
So one of prehistory’s greatest ironies is that the invention of beer led the majority of humans to be ruled over by a privileged class, making the majority of humans want to drink more beer. (The privileged class preferred wine, even then.)
Despite the advent of agriculture, the domestication of plants and animals, and the first hierarchical societies, humans were capable of behaving even more oddly. At this time, humans also started building elaborate tombs for the dead. Some of these magnificent structures remain today. One of them is the passage tomb at Newgrange, situated in modern-day Ireland. To this day, we have no definitive explanation of what the tomb is for, though we suspect commercial motivations: