From a reader:

I have often disputed the claim of surveyors to belong to the second oldest profession. I contend that surveying is historically the OLDEST profession. According to James Burke, before the invention of the plow everyone's "profession" was the same - getting something to eat. The use of the plow permitted one to cultivate the land and produce a surplus of food. Without this surplus of food we might today still be just "seekers of food" or "takers of food."

Prior to the plow, there could be no government (no money); no kings, no church, no businesses, nothing to legitimate or illegitimate! However, with a surplus the "takers" would become kings and knowing who's (taxable) crop belonged to whom would be extreemly important.

The "Rope-Strechers" (surveyors) were just the ones who knew how to determine who's was who's and permitted a stable "legitimate" society to develop. It would only be after this that codes of behavior and "normalcy" or legitimacy would have any real meaning. Only after 1) surplus, 2) government, 3) religion, 4) marriage had been instituted could another, more familiar, profession develop who has for a long time claimed to be the "oldest."

From another reader: The World's Oldest Profession: Then And Now