When and Where Did Cotton Originate?

Cotton Originate

Modern society is defined as being fueled by petroleum; Jed Clampett got rich by striking “black gold” when he discovered oil on his family lands. That was a silly tv show, real wealth comes from hard work, and growing cotton is a solution towards providing for the needs of your family and community. The history of cotton goes back long before it was a cash crop sold to Europeans by the new American immigrants, cotton is actually as old as history itself.

Ancient History

Cotton was being used by humans before we invented writing or began keeping diaries of our activities. Archaeological finds in Mexico have determined cotton was already in use in the year 5,000 B.C.E. The earliest civilizations showed used of cotton in Sumeria and Mesopotamia in the fourth millennia before the common era, when the first humans were learning how to pool their resources to work together, and invented writing as a logistical resource of production and needs.

The cotton crops were genetically different than what we grow today. They produced fiber which was turned into textiles, and the fabrics were used as clothing and shelter. At that point in time, expectations were different. Cotton cloth was nicer than linens spun from other plants, but probably wasn’t the same as that wonderful brand-new underwear you’re wearing right now. Or the cotton used to structurally reinforce the rubber in your car tires, or the cotton oils used for cooking.

Early Asian Sources of Cotton

Domestication of Animals and Intentional Cultivation

The fact is humans evolved beyond a stage of being hunter/gatherers to develop communities. Teams of people working together are always going to be more successful than hermits trying to go-it alone. When primitive people came to understand such a concept, they saw the need for domesticated animals, intentional agriculture and farming, and cotton was an important crop towards further evolution.

Agricultural Science Expands

As humans evolved, so did their understanding of agriculture. Those early civilizations were successful, and the concept spread. Without college degrees toward specific subjects, early farmers gained a fundamental understanding of annual planting times, weather related events and how they affect the grow season, and how to balance the immediate use of crops while saving seeds to replant the following year. Good knowledge can’t be kept secret, it has always and will always spread. Domestication of animals and cultivation of crops, for food and fabric, spread quickly across Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cotton in America: Pre-Discovery

In the meantime, Native Americans were also developing diverse cultures and political arrangements, and were using the cotton which grows naturally and easily in the America’s. As a matter of fact, according to current archaeological finds, it seems cotton was being used in America thousands of years before cities or towns were being built. Cotton fabrics are direct evidence of such use, it only stands to reason the oils were also being used and the seeds were saved to plant again the following season.

Cotton in American Colonial Times

When Europeans began settling in America, it was for-profit enterprises conducting the immigration. Tobacco, rum, and sugar were huge cash crops, and cotton was also. Slavery wasn’t a new phenomenon, it existed before the American colonies, but had never existed the way the colonists treated the concept. Previously, being a slave was a social status. Whether it was serfs in Europe, Roman slaves, Greek slaves in Athens or Sparta before Rome, or even defeated African leaders who became subjugated to their conquerors, slavery was a system of defining who people were and what their role in society was. Only in America did slavery become an institution in which people weren’t recognized as sentient beings but instead treated as domesticated animals.

Cotton Production in Recent History

The atrocity of slavery in America can never be justified, but from a non-emotional perspective, that source of free labor changed the nature of cotton from being a luxury item to becoming a standard paradigm used all over the world on a daily basis. It’s easy to think about a favorite t-shirt or perhaps a comfortable cotton sweater in terms of how cotton is used as a fabric for clothing, but it serves many more purposes most laypeople aren’t likely to be aware of. Oil squeezed from cotton is part of regular vegetable oils used for cooking at home or in local restaurants. Cotton fiber is used in certain building supplies, and is a structural element in rubber products which require reinforcement. As a matter of fact, only 65% of cotton fiber is used for textiles, the rest is what makes the synthetic materials and cushions in your bed, couch, or favorite chair so comfortable.

The bottom line is, cotton has been around for as long as modern humans discovered tool use. Outside of the clothes you’re wearing, cotton is all around you every day in places you might not associate with cotton. Thankfully, 7,000 years ago our primitive ancestors were smart enough to recognize the usefulness of cotton and begin cultivating it, all we’ve done in modern times is to improve on the idea and find even better and more efficient means of using such a great resource.

High Quality Aftermarket Parts

If you have a cotton farm today, and if you need Case IH or John Deere aftermarket parts you know that you need to keep your operation running at peak efficiency to meet modern demands. With this extended need in the market, you can’t afford to have your John Deere or Case IH cotton picker break down, so you need to be able to rely upon a company that can provide you with quality aftermarket parts. Visit Certi-Pik, USA to find all of the replacement parts that you will need to keep your farm operating and meeting harvest needs.

Kelly Passarelly
Kelly Passarelly is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about different topics.

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