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N.S. Gill

Fertile Crescent

By January 6, 2008

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Known as the cradle of civilization for its importance and precedence over later cultures of the Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent is at the start of many studies of ancient history. This was an area of early urban areas, writing, and irrigation.

You'd think there would be a universally accepted geographic location defined by the term, but the boundaries of the Fertile Crescent are sometimes inconsistent. In its article on the Near East, The Oxford Companion to Archaeology [Brian M. Fagan, ed., Oxford University Press 1996] defines it as the area that extends from the northern Negev and Jordan Valley in Israel, northward along the Mediterranean littoral, eastward through Anatolia, the Taurus Mountains, and south to the alluvial plains of Iraq and Iran, to the Persian Gulf. The Near East (the area surrounded by the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Caspian, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea), is an area low in rain, which means aside from those areas with adequate rainfall, crops needed water from the rivers. However, wild forms of cereal grains grew there, particularly einhorn wheat and possibly emmer. Between about 8500 and 7000 B.C., neolithic farmers began domesticating plants and animals.

See the Archaeology Guide's article on Domestication of Wheat and various articles on the domestication of animals and plants.


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