The rise of agriculture is partly to blame, said Richard Steckel, a professor of economics and anthropology at Ohio State University. The demands of tending domestic crops encouraged people to settle in larger communities, where disease was more easily spread.
The rise of towns and cities during industrialization took a serious toll on health, but new evidence establishes a very long trail of poor health that followed the collective pre-Columbian efforts in creating modern civilization, Steckel said. He co-edited a book that looks at health trends in the Western Hemisphere throughout the last seven millennia.
According to some archeologists, the urban revolution began long before Europeans settled the Americas. Sophisticated cities flourished and expanded throughout North and South America once people mastered agriculture. Researchers believe that indigenous people began domesticating crops more than 5,000 years ago.
The current research suggests
that the overall health of the
average person declined with the development of agriculture,
Contact: Richard Steckel
Ohio State University