Skip to comments.Ancient farmers swiftly spread westward
Posted on 01/15/2011 7:18:08 AM PST by SunkenCiv
Croatia does not have a reputation as a hotbed of ancient agriculture. But new excavations, described January 7 in San Antonio at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, unveil a Mediterranean Sea-hugging strip of southern Croatia as a hub for early farmers who spread their sedentary lifestyle from the Middle East into Europe.
Farming villages sprouted swiftly in this coastal region, called Dalmatia, nearly 8,000 years ago, apparently with the arrival of Middle Easterners already adept at growing crops and herding animals, says archaeologist Andrew Moore of Rochester Institute of Technology in New York...
Plant cultivation and animal raising started almost 8,000 years ago at Pokrovnik and lasted for close to a millennium, according to radiocarbon dating of charred seeds and bones from a series of occupation layers. Comparable practices at Danilo Bitinj lasted from about 7,300 to 6,800 years ago.
Other evidence supports a fast spread of sophisticated farming methods from the Middle East into Europe (SN: 2/5/05, p. 88), remarks Harvard University archaeologist Ofer Bar-Yosef. Farming villages in western Greece date to about 9,000 years ago, he notes. Middle Eastern farmers exploited a wide array of domesticated plants and animals by 10,500 years ago, setting the stage for a westward migration, Bar-Yosef says.
Other researchers began excavating Pokrovnik and Danilo Bitinj more than 40 years ago. Only Moore and his colleagues dug deep enough to uncover signs of intensive farming.
Their discoveries support the idea that agricultural newcomers to southern Europe built villages without encountering local nomadic groups, Moore asserts. Earlier excavations at Neolithic sites in Germany and France raise the possibility that hunter-gatherers clashed with incoming villagers in northern Europe, he notes.
(Excerpt) Read more at sciencenews.org ...
ANCIENT AGGIES Discoveries at two prehistoric farming villages in southern Croatia, including ceramic bowls and a partial female statuette, shown above, reflect a sophisticated culture of plant cultivation and animal herding much like that still practiced in the region today. [A. Moore]
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thus advancing early soil fertilization and conservation methods
now employed by the White House and EPA
The old tried and true method of planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall will surely change after global warming turns the planet into one big greenhouse.
Politically incorrect so it ain't so.
I dunno, the evidence seems pretty spotty to me....
At it's most primitive level of development, agriculture that involves planting seeds of specific plants, and husbanding specific resources useful to those plants can work provided there's a bit of water around ~ in areas that need not be much different than raw desert.
Hunting and gathering, however, require a MUCH MORE DEVELOPED environment with a mix of forests, glades, wide varieties of plants of all types good for diverse animals species, etc. In short, your basic desert is not terribly useful to hunters and gatherers ~ ask the Papago Indians about that ~ they were the FIRST to meet and greet the Spanish missionaries in California ~ and they quickly assimilated since they could easily see hunting for lizards and roots was a lot harder work than hanging around with a bunch of Catholic priests who seemed to know what they were doing, had nice clothes (from China no less), and who ate quite well. (NOTE: Only modern people suggest that moving from hunting and gathering to settled agriculture damaged the Papago people as "individuals". Sure, it destroyed their society, but if you want to go track down lizards for dinner, go to it eh).
Consider, the first Western Europeans out of the Franco/Spanish refugia headed due North securing prime "seal" hunting grounds all the way to the Arctic Ocean. Agriculture has yet to penetrate Northern Norway in fact, and the greater part of the population descends from the earliest hunter/gatherers to get there. (NOTE: gathering is rather limited to seaweed, lingonberries, moss and various roots which means the name of the game was primarily hunting with seal skin being the primary source of vitamin C.)
As the Ice Sheets withdrew they left behind grasslands or desert, but it took centuries for the full forest ecology to develop. The Middle Eastern agriculturalists could move into what were for that time "marginal lands" and prosper undisturbed!
This is consistent with events back in their Anatolian and Assyrian homelands. There the most ancient "temples" reveal that the locals seemed to not know anything about lions, sabertoothed tigers, or the sort of large game such critters need to survive. So far the biggest cat carving found seems to be that of something about the size of a bobcat or lynx.
The big dogs, so to speak, were off chasing game in the grasslands ~ and that's where our own hunter-gatherer ancestors tried to make a home.
The Sumerians who did the job were migratory pastoralists with great herds of sheep, goats, cattle and other animals.
They were replaced by Semites once all the heavy hauling had been done.
Agriculture was developed extensively in Syria (and along the Mediterranean Coast), Eastern Anatolia and later in Mesopotamia by the Semitic newcomers.
We are talking about thousands of years of work BTW ~ didn't happen overnight.
Oh, yes, the singular Semitic-speaking contribution to government was the creation of the First Nation ~ aka "Egypt". Not at all a casual undertaking and well worth praise, but even Egypt used a writing concept first developed by the Sumerians. East Asian developments lagged the West (meaning Mesopotamia and Eastern Mediterranean) by maybe a thousand years.
Recent discoveries in the Aleutians suggest that Japonica rice may well have been developed there first (along with the same heated floor/foundation system typical of ancient Korean settlements). Japonica was then taken to Asia by Aleuts and then propagated in China. Indicum was developed later along the upper reaches of the Ganges, but it's a separate species. American Indian "wild rice" is yet another group of species (somewhat related to Indicum and Japonica). As usual American Indians were developing many times more species of plants into useful agricultural products than Old World populations.
Egypt was not Semitic.
The Semites' biggest contributions to history have been the alphabet and the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Farming villages sprouted swiftly in this coastal region, called Dalmatia, nearly 8,000 years ago
“I dunno, the evidence seems pretty spotty to me.... “
It does give one paws ...
Egypt was the first nation-state ~ the ALPHABET was derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics which were themselves based on the Sumerian hieroglyphics system.
The Phoenicians who lived along the Mediterranean coast between Egypt proper and Anatolia (and who had colonies all over the place) are usually credited with FORMAL development of the alphabet because they broke the letters completely away from their underlying meanings assigned in the age of hieroglyphic dominance.
Modern people are sometimes misled into thinking an alphabet is an "obvious invention", but it's not. Even a syllabary like those used by the Mayans, Koreans, Japanese or Cherokee isn't "obvious".
Hieroglyphic systems derive directly from the image of objects or the process applied to them by a man, animal or nature (wind, lightning, light). All such systems, once devised, are quickly modified to include agreed upon "shortcuts" ~ the current Chinese character systems are very difficult to understand without substantial instruction (about 8 years worth), but some people can pick their way through them with limited experience.
The original Chinese characters ~ called the Shan Dynasty Characters ~ are petty close to the original idea and can be expressed quite well in Plains (or Sioux) Indian sign language ~ (proving 1 of 2 things ~ either the Chinese origins of much of Plains Indians culture, or maybe the Plains Indians figured out how to get to the Old World in ancient times and founded civilization)
Sumerian hieroglyphs became quite stylized thereby facilitating the use of the cunuiform wedge ~ which allowed records to be made on mud tablets.
All writing forms on Earth appear to derive in one way or the other from the original discoveries in Mesopotamia.
Regarding Judaism, Christianity and Islam ~ Judaism began among the predecessors to the Hebrews in Mesopotamia ~ Ur in fact. Guy who started it off was named Abram. At the same time the most ancient Mesopotamian texts date back to a time long before Abram (now known as Abraham) and include many religious concepts reflected in the quite later Hebrew materials.
Although Abram was clearly a Semitic-speaker, his "followers" who accompanied him were drawn from the broad masses of Mesopotamia, and that MUST include the descendants of the same folks who used to make an idol of a dwarf with a tall conical hat and long beard. He rode a reindeer ~ they made reindeer too. That same figure was known all across the broad expanse of Northern Asia as well for many thousands of years.
Early Farmers Spotted in Dalmatia
Agriculture took thousands of years to spread within the Middle East itself.
The settlers here bringing in farming are right there at the water's edge of the Serbian refugia ~ but the original occupants already di-di'd out going North, East, West ~ and not Souf' to Dubrovnik where I think eventoday we find the European climactic zone line between growing flax and growing cotton (something to be checked soon since this is a very relevant ancient line that separated one type of culture from another).
The Sami wore dunce caps?
The Mediterranean currents and prevailing winds did have a nasty (?) habit of creating history.
There's some wild stuff in the world's most ancient literature ~ eric van danikenn doesn't hold a candle to those ol'boys.
Until the Sahara formed nobody wanted to spend the time taming the shores of the fairly wild Nile river.
We are just now beginning to research what was going on further West in what is now the Sahara. Earlier this morning I was in fact, reading an article about a lake as big as Erie that existed during the Ice Age out about 400 KM West of the Nile. There were smaller lakes much closer to the Nile that lasted down to Greco-Roman times.
As long as those lakes provided a good living the Nile Valley was not attractive. Still, the first settlements in Egypt came complete with large stone temples and advanced metal working technology
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