Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

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  • The Fertile Crescent

    The Fertile Crescent is a term for an old fertile area north, east and west of the Arabian Desert in Southwest Asia. The Mesopotamian valley and the Nile valley fall under this term even though the mountain zone around Mesopotamia is the natural zone for the transition in a historical sense.

    As a result of a number of unique geographical factors the Fertile Crescent have an impressive history of early human agricultural activity and culture. Besides the numerous archaeological sites with remains of skeletons and cultural relics the area is known primarily for its excavation sites linked to agricultural origins and development of the Neolithic era.

    It was here, in the forested mountain slopes of the periphery of this area, that agriculture originated in an ecologically restricted environment. The western zone and areas around the upper Euphrates gave growth to the first known Neolithic farming communities with small, round houses , also referred to as Pre Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) cultures, which dates to just after 10,000 BC and include areas such as Jericho, the world’s oldest city.

    During the subsequent PPNB from 9000 BC these communities developed into larger villages with farming and animal husbandry as the main source of livelihood, with settlement in the two-story, rectangular house. Man now entered in symbiosis with grain and livestock species, with no opportunity to return to hunter – gatherer societies.

    The area west and north of the plains of the Euphrates and Tigris also saw the emergence of early complex societies in the much later Bronze Age (about 4000 BC). There is evidence of written culture and early state formation in this northern steppe area, although the written formation of the states relatively quickly shifted its center of gravity into the Mesopotamian valley and developed there. The area is therefore in very many writers been named “The Cradle of Civilization.”

    The area has experienced a series of upheavals and new formation of states. When Turkey was formed in the aftermath of the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians perpetrated by the Young Turks during the First World War it is estimated that two-thirds to three-quarters of all Armenians and Assyrians in the region died, and the Pontic Greeks was pushed to Greece.

    Israel was created out of the Ottoman Empire and the conquering of the Palestinian terretories. The existence of large Arab nation states from the Maghreb to the Levant has since represented a potential threat to Israel which should be neutralised when opportunities arise.

    This line of thinking was at the heart of David Ben Gurion’s policies in the 1950s which sought to exacerbate tensions between Christians and Muslims in the Lebanon for the fruits of acquiring regional influence by the dismembering the country and the possible acquisition of additional territory.

    The Christians are now being systematically targeted for genocide in Syria according to Vatican and other sources with contacts on the ground among the besieged Christian community.

    According to reports by the Vatican’s Fides News Agency collected by the Centre for the Study of Interventionism, the US-backed Free Syrian Army rebels and ever more radical spin-off factions are sacking Christian churches, shooting Christians dead in the street, broadcasting ultimatums that all Christians must be cleansed from the rebel-held villages, and even shooting priests.

    It is now time that the genocide against the Pontic Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians is being recognized, that the Israeli occupation, settlements and violence against the Palestinians stop, and that the various minorities in the area start to live their lifes in peace – without violence and threats from majority populations, or from the West, and then specificially from the US.

    War in the Fertile Crescent
    https://aratta.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/war-in-the-fertile-crescent

    Everyone is free to use the text on this blog as they want. There is no copyright etc. This because knowledge is more important than rules and regulations.

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Pre Pottery Neolithic

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on September 14, 2013

The Obsidian Trade in the Near East, 14,000 to 6500 BC

Anatomically modern Homo sapiens are demonstrated at the area of Mount Carmel, during the Middle Paleolithic dating from about c. 90,000 BC. This move out of Africa seems to have been unsuccessful and by c. 60,000 BC in Palestine/Israel/Syria, especially at Amud, classic Neanderthal groups seem to have profited from the worsening climate to have replaced Homo sapiens, who seem to have been confined once more to Africa.

A second move out of Africa is demonstrated by the Boker Tachtit Upper Paleolithic culture, from 52-50,000 BC, with humans at Ksar Akil XXV level being modern humans. This culture bears close resemblance to the Badoshan Aurignacian culture of Iran, and the later Sebilian I Egyptian culture of c. 50,000 BC. Stephen Oppenheimer suggests that this reflects a movement of modern human (possibly Caucasian) groups back into North Africa, at this time.

It would appear this sets the date by which Homo sapien Upper Paleolithic cultures begin replacing Neanderthal Levalo-Mousterian, and by c. 40,000 BC Palestine was occupied by the Levanto-Aurignacian Ahmarian culture, lasting from 39-24,000 BC. This culture was quite successful spreading as the Antelian culture (late Aurignacian), as far as Southern Anatolia, with the Atlitan culture.

Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools (or industry) associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the Old Stone Age.

The culture was named after the type site of Le Moustier, a rock shelter in the Dordogne region of France.Similar flintwork has been found all over unglaciated Europe and also the Near East and North Africa. Handaxes, racloirs and points constitute the industry; sometimes a Levallois technique or another prepared-core technique was employed in making the flint flakes.

Mousterian tools that have been found in Europe were made by Neanderthals and date from between 300,000 BP and 30,000 BP. In Northern Africa and the Near East they were also produced by anatomically modern humans.

In the Levant for example, assemblages produced by Neanderthals are indistinguishable from those produced by Qafzeh type modern humans. It may be an example of acculturation of modern humans by Neanderthals because the culture after 130,000 years reached the Levant from Europe (the first Mousterian industry appears there 200,000 BP) and the modern Qafzeh type humans appear in the Levant another 100,000 years later. The Industry was superseded by the Châtelperronian during 35,000-29,000 BP.

The Mousterian culture is followed by the Baradostian culture. Baradostian culture is an early Upper Palaeolithic flint industry culture in Zagros region at the border of Iran and Iraq.

Radiocarbon dates suggest that this is one of the earliest Upper Palaeolithic complexes; it may have begun as early as 36,000 BC. Its relationship to neighbouring industries however remains unclear. Shanidar Cave in Iraqi Kurdistan, Warwasi rockshelter and Yafteh cave at western Zagros and Eshkaft-e gavi Cave in southern Zagros are among the major sites to be excavated.

Perhaps caused by the maximum cold of the last phase of the most recent ice age or Wurm glaciation the Baradostian was replaced by a local Epi-Palaeolithic industry called the Zarzian culture. This tool tradition marks the end of the Zagros Palaeolithic sequence.

Zarzian culture (18,000-8,000 years BC) is an archaeological culture of late Paleolithic and Mesolithic in Iraq, Iran, Central Asia. It was preceded by the Baradostian culture in the same region and was related to the Imereti culture of the Caucasus.

The culture was named and recognised of the cave of Zarzi in Iraqi Kurdistan. Here was found plenty of microliths (up to 20% finds). Their forms are short and asymmetric trapezoids, and triangles with hollows.

Andy Burns states “The Zarzian of the Zagros region of Iran is contemporary with the Natufian but different from it. The only dates for the entire Zarzian come from Palegawra Cave, and date to 17,300-17,000 BP, but it is clear that it is broadly contemporary with the Levantine Kebaran, with which it shares features. It seems to have evolved from the Upper Palaeolithic Baradostian.”

There are only a few Zarzian sites and the area appears to have been quite sparsely populated during the Epipalaeolithic. Faunal remains from the Zarzian indicate that the temporary form of structures indicate a hunter-gatherer subsistence strategy, focused on onager, red deer and caprines. Better known sites include Palegawra Cave, Shanidar B2 and Zarzi.” The Zarzian culture seems to have participated in the early stages of what Kent Flannery has called the broad spectrum revolution.

The Zarzian culture is found associated with remains of the domesticated dog and with the introduction of the bow and arrow. It seems to have extended north into the Kobistan region and into Eastern Iran as a forerunner of the Hissar and related cultures.

Emirian culture (30,000 – 20,000 BC) was a culture that existed in the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine) between the Middle Paleolithic and the Upper Paleolithic periods.

Emirian culture apparently developed from the local Mousterian without rupture, keeping numerous elements of the Levalloise-Mousterian, together with the locally typical Emireh point. Numerous stone blade tools were used, including curved knives similar to those found in the Chatelperronian culture of Western Europe.

The Emirian eventually evolved into the Antelian culture, still of Levalloise tradition but with some Aurignacian influences.

According to Dorothy Garrod, the Emireh point, known from several sites in Israel, is the hallmark of this culture.

The Antelian culture is an Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine) that evolves from Emirian. The most important innovation in this period is the incorporation of some typical elements of Aurignacian, like some types of burins and narrow blade points that resemble the European type of Font-Yves.

After the Late Glacial Maxima, a new Epipaleolithic culture appears in Southern Palestine. Extending from 18-10,500 BC, the Kebaran culture shows clear connections to the earlier Microlithic cultures using the bow and arrow, and using grinding stones to harvest wild grains, that developed from the c. 24,000-17,000 BC Halfan culture of Egypt, that came from the still earlier Aterian tradition of the Sahara.

The Kebaran or Kebarian culture was an archaeological culture in the eastern Mediterranean area (c. 18,000 to 12,500 BC), named after its type site, Kebara Cave south of Haifa. The Kebaran were a highly mobile nomadic population, composed of hunters and gatherers in the Levant and Sinai areas who utilized microlithic tools.

The Kebaran is the last Upper Paleolithic phase of the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine). The Kebarans were characterized by small, geometric microliths, and were thought to lack the specialized grinders and pounders found in later Near Eastern cultures.

The Kebaran is preceded by the Athlitian phase of the Antelian and followed by the proto-agrarian Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic. The Kebaran is also characterised by the earliest collecting of wild cereals, known due to the uncovering of grain grinding tools. It was the first step towards the Neolithic Revolution. The Kebaran people are believed to have practiced dispersal to upland environments in the summer, and aggregation in caves and rockshelters near lowland lakes in the winter. This diversity of environments may be the reason for the variety of tools found in their toolkits.

Situated in the Terminal Pleistocene, the Kebaran is classified as an Epipalaeolithic society. They are generally thought to have been ancestral to the later Natufian culture that occupied much of the same range.

The Natufian culture was an Epipaleolithic culture that existed from 13,000 to 9,800 B.C. in the Levant, a region in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was unusual in that it was sedentary, or semi-sedentary, before the introduction of agriculture.

The Natufian communities are possibly the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements of the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. There is some evidence for the deliberate cultivation of cereals, specifically rye, by the Natufian culture, at the Tell Abu Hureyra site, the site for earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. Generally, though, Natufians made use of wild cereals. Animals hunted included gazelles.

Natufian culture also demonstrates the earliest domestication of the dog, and the assistance of this animal in hunting and guarding human settlements may have contributed to the successful spread of this culture. In the northern Syrian, eastern Anatolian region of the Levant, Natufian culture at Cayonu and Mureybet developed the first fully agricultural culture with the addition of wild grains, later being supplemented with domesticated sheep and goats, which were probably domesticated first by the Zarzian culture of Northern Iraq and Iran (which like the Natufian culture may have also developed from Kebaran).

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN, around 8500-5500 BC) represents the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. It succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic) as the domestication of plants and animals was in its beginnings, possibly triggered by the Younger Dryas.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic is divided into Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA 8500 BCE – 7600 BCE) and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB 7600 BCE – 6000 BCE). These were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). The Pre-Pottery Neolithic precedes the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). The Yarmukian Culture is a Neolithic culture of the ancient Levant. It was the first culture in Prehistoric Israel and one of the oldest in the Levant to make use of pottery.

Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage in early Levantine Neolithic culture, dating around 8000 to 7000 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent. The time period is characterized by tiny circular mud brick dwellings, the cultivation of crops, the hunting of wild game, and unique burial customs in which bodies were buried below the floors of dwellings.

PPNA succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic). One of the most notable PPNA settlements is Jericho, thought to be the world’s first town (c 8000 BC). The PPNA town contained a population of up to 2,000-3,000 people, and was protected by a massive stone wall and tower. There is much debate over the function of the wall, for there is no evidence of any serious warfare at this time. One possibility is the wall was built to protect the salt resources of Jericho.

PPNB differed from PPNA in showing greater use of domesticated animals, a different set of tools, and new architectural styles. Like the earlier PPNA people, the PPNB culture developed from the Earlier Natufian but shows evidence of a northerly origin, possibly indicating an influx from the region of north eastern Anatolia.

The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event, a term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6200 BC, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries. In the following Munhatta and Yarmukian post-pottery Neolithic cultures that succeeded it, rapid cultural development continues, although PPNB culture continued in the Amuq valley, where it influenced the later development of Ghassulian culture.

At ‘Ain Ghazal in Jordan the culture continued a few more centuries as the so-called Pre-Pottery Neolithic C culture. Juris Zarins has proposed that a Circum Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex developed in the period from the climatic crisis of 6200 BC, partly as a result of an increasing emphasis in PPNB cultures upon domesticated animals, and a fusion with Harifian hunter gatherers in the Southern Levant, with affiliate connections with the cultures of Fayyum and the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Cultures practicing this lifestyle spread down the Red Sea shoreline and moved east from Syria into southern Iraq.

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