System A overcomes the limitations of system N with the use of agriculture and the domestication of animals, which started during the neolithic revolution. Both technologies allow for a sustainable food production in one single location, thus removing the necessity to travel around frequently. Humans became sessile during the transition from system N to system A.
Agriculture provided increasingly large amounts of food, which enabled the population to grow much larger than in a system N tribe. Villages, towns, and even cities were the result of this growth in population density, which required novels ways of structuring society. Egalitarian society gave way to a general bisection of society into farmers and elites. Additionally, it often happened that a slave class was used by the elites for their own services.
The focus on few agricultural food crops created massive health problems, which dramatically reduced life expectancy in system A, compared to system N. The need to work long hours for agricultural production also diminished the quality of life for the vast majority of the population. In contrast, the elites could focus on the progress of culture, the arts, knowledge, technology, and the economy. Economic growth in system A is typically less than 0.1% per year.
What hampered faster development in system A was the lacking understanding and application of the scientific method, even though the ancient Greek civilization came pretty close to becoming a truly scientific society. Instead, most of the later history of system A was dominated by the ideological supremacy of philosophical and religious authorities. Nevertheless, the use of water and wind power with mills and wind mills during the latest stages of system A enabled the transition to system C.
Alternative names for system A
- Agricultural age