Skip to comments.Holy Land Farming Began 5,000 Years Earlier Than Thought
Posted on 04/06/2014 8:00:14 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
For thousands of years, different groups of people have lived in the Negev desert, building stone walls and cities that survive to this day. But how did they make their living?
The current thinking is that these desert denizens didn't practice agriculture before approximately the first century, surviving instead by raising animals, said Hendrik Bruins, a landscape archaeologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
But new research suggests people in this area, the Negev highlands, practiced agriculture as long ago as 5000 B.C., Bruins told LiveScience. If true, the finding could change historians' views of the area's inhabitants, who lived in the region in biblical times and even before, he added.
A great surprise
Bruins' findings come from radiocarbon dating of bones and organic materials in various soil layers in an ancient field in southern Israel. He measured the ratio of carbon isotopes (atoms of the same element with a different number of neutrons), which changes as the radioactive carbon-14 isotope breaks down over time, while the stable carbon-12 does not. Within the soil, he found evidence of past cultivation, including animal manure and charred organic material (likely burnt kitchen scraps), both of which have been used as fertilizer around the world for millennia, he said.
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That scenario doesn’t seem too likely, even if the lower figure of 70K (or as some would have it 40K) is accepted.
The problem is perhaps analogous to the search for exoplanets — when the first one was verified back in the 1990s, the technology was such that only very large bodies could be detected. Now nearly twenty years on bodies only 2 or 3 times Earth’s size can be detected.
With perishable materials, much less will survive over these huge intervals; woven material was used a very long time ago, but has only survived in the form of the imprints left on, say, clay. But the stone tools, arrowheads, etc, will be there for millions of years.
The oldest multirow (cultivated) barley sample AFAIK goes back to RC 14000 years ago, dug up in the Near East somewhere. It’s amazing that it survived, but it pushes back the verified age of agriculture. Postholes from structures rather like longhouses have been dated to 800K, and while it’s possible that a hunter-gatherer culture may have built shelters, the very nature of a moving food supply makes it unlikely that some form of agriculture was NOT being practiced there.
For much of the last 2 million years the oceans have been reduced in depth by glaciers on the highlands of the continents, and it’s perfectly likely that most of what we’d consider human prehistory left its traces on what is now the continental shelf.
Back then, the Batmobile was horse-drawn, and only had two wheels.
But tell me it still had those big bat wings on it.
Ancient Nabatean winepress, present day vineyard. I like their priorities for that scarce rainwater.
Two wings, but they grew out of an orb.
Wine was also used to clean up the water, and the water diluted the wine to avoid dehydration during the hot weather. :’) The Greeks did the same thing, in Homer there’s at least one scene where Odysseus is sitting at a table, mingling wine with water.
It's easy to forget that for most of human history urban water sources were dangerous. It was common to use alcohol or acid to mix with water to make it safer. Hence, the great popularity of tea and coffee. Also, it was common for people to drink beer over plain water until even into the 20th Century in the US and Northern Europe. Ahhh, for the old ways.
Heh... those big bags of tea were lead-lined, that explains why my grandma and her siblings only lived into their 80s.
Yup. I like it.
Afrocentrists have this "thing" about the early Egyptians being black Africans. Personally, I think that agriculturalists from much further north came down the eastern Mediterranean coast, found the very fertile Nile valley, and displaced any Africans who might have earlier been there. Egyptian civilization followed.
(Well, yeah, its Maggie.)