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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Domestication of goats and sheep

Posted by Sjur Cappelen Papazian on August 4, 2018

At several sites (e.g. Hallan Çemi, Abu Hureyra, Mureybet) we can see a continuous occupation from a hunter-gathering lifestyle (based on hunting, and gathering and grinding of wild grains) to an economy based mainly on growing (still wild varieties of) wheat, barley and legumes from around 9000 BC.

Domestication of goats and sheep followed within a few generations, but didn’t become widespread for more than a millennium. Weaving and pottery followed about two thousand years later.

Neolithic farmers began to herd wild goats primarily for easy access to milk and meat, as well as to their dung, which was used as fuel, and their bones, hair and sinew for clothing, building and tools.

The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that the wild Bezoar ibex of the Zagros Mountains is the likely original ancestor of probably all domestic goats today.

The earliest remnants of domesticated goats dating 10,000 years before present are found in Ganj Dareh (“Treasure Valley” or “Treasure Valley Hill”) in Iran. It is located in the Harsin County in east of Kermanshah Province, in the central Zagros Mountains. The oldest settlement remains on the site date back to ca. 10,000 years ago, and have yielded the earliest evidence for goat domestication in the world.

Goat remains have been found at archaeological sites in Jericho, Choga Mami, Djeitun, and Çayönü, dating the domestication of goats in Western Asia at between 8000 and 9000 years ago.

Researchers sequenced the genome from the petrous bone of a 30-50 woman from Ganj Dareh, GD13a. mtDNA analysis shows that she belonged to Haplogroup X. She is phenotypically similar to the Anatolian early farmers and Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers.

Her DNA revealed that she had black hair, brown eyes and was lactose intolerant. The derived SLC45A2 variant associated with light skin was not observed in GD13a, but the derived SLC24A5 variant which is also associated with the same trait was observed.

GD13a is genetically closest to the ancient Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers identified from human remains from Western Georgia (Satsurblia Cave and Kotias Klde), just north of the Zagros mountains.

She also shared genetic affinities with the Steppe populations of the Yamna culture and the Afanasevo culture that were part of one or more Bronze age migrations into Europe, as well as early Bronze age cultures in that continent (Corded Ware), in line with previous relationships observed for the Caucasus Hunter-Gatherers.

Her population did not contribute very much genetically to modern Europeans. She belonged to a population that was genetically distinct from the Neolithic Anatolian farmers.

In terms of modern populations, she shows some genetic affinity with modern Central South Asian populations such as the Brahui people, the Baloch people and the Makrani caste, a Muslim community found in the state of Gujarat in India and Pakistan that descendents of Baluchs who were brought to Saurashtra as mercenaries.

The Baloch or Baluch are a people who live mainly in the Balochistan region of the southeastern-most edge of the Iranian plateau in Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as in the Arabian Peninsula. They mainly speak the Balochi language, a branch of Northwestern Iranian languages, and are an Iranic people.

About 50% of the total Baloch population live in Balochistan, a western province of Pakistan; 40% of Baloch are settled in Sindh; and a significant number of Baloch people in Punjab of Pakistan. They make up nearly 3.6% of the Pakistani population, about 2% of Iran’s population (1.5 million) and about 2% of Afghanistan’s population.

Baloch people co-inhabit desert and mountainous regions along with Pashtuns. Baloch people practice Islam, are predominantly Sunni, and use Urdu as the lingua franca to communicate with other ethnic groups such as Pashtuns and Sindhis, as is the norm for Pakistan.

The exact origin of the word ‘Baloch’ is unclear. Rawlinson (1873) believed that it is derived from the name of the Babylonian king and god Belus. Dames (1904) believed that it is derived from the Persian term for cockscomb, said to have been used as a crest on the helmets of Baloch troops in 6th century BCE. Herzfeld (1968) proposed that it is derived from the Median term brza-vaciya, which describes a loud or aggressive way of speaking.

Naseer Dashti (2012) presents another possibility, that of being derived from the name of the ethnic group `Balaschik’ living in Balashagan, between the Caspian Sea and Lake Van in present day Turkey and Azerbaizan, who are believed to have migrated to Balochistan during the Sassanid times. The remnants of the original name such as ‘Balochuk’ and ‘Balochiki’ are said to be still used as ethnic names in Balochistan.

Balāsagān (literally meaning “country of Balas”) was a satrapy of the Sasanian Empire. Shapur I’s inscription at Naqsh-e-Rostam describes the satrapy as “extending to the Caucasus mountains and the Gate of Albania (also known as Gate of the Alans)”, but for the most part it was located south of the lower course of the rivers Kura and the Aras (Araxes), bordered on the south by Adurbadagan, and had the Caspian Sea on its east.

Balasagan is also mentioned separately from Albania as a province of the empire at Shapur’s inscription, which indicates that it was its own political entity even though it was subject to Albania. The monarch of Balasagan also gained the title of King under Ardashir, which would indicate it becoming a vassal.

After the conversion of Armenia to Christianity, and subsequently Iberia and Albania Balasagan was also slowly converted to Christianity. During the reign of Yazdegerd II, the king of Balasagan, Heran, sided with the Sassanids and helped crush an Armenian revolt, however he himself revolted later on and was executed.

Some writers suggest a derivation from Sanskrit words bal, meaning strength, and och meaning high or magnificent. An earliest Sanskrit reference to the Baloch might be the Gwalior inscription of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Mihira Bhoja (r. 836–885), which says that the dynasty’s founder Nagabhata I repelled a powerful army of Valacha Mlecchas, translated as “Baluch foreigners” by D. R. Bhandarkar. The army in question is that of the Umayyad Caliphate after the conquest of Sindh.

Walhaz

*Walhaz is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word meaning “foreigner”, “stranger”, “Roman”, “Romance-speaker”, or “Celtic-speaker”. The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Western Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages (cf. Valland in Old Norse).

The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning “French”; Old High German walhisk, meaning “Romance”; New High German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance speakers; Dutch Waals “Walloon”; Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning “Romano-British”; and Modern English Welsh.

The form of these words imply that they are descended from a Proto-Germanic form *walhiska-. It is attested in the Roman Iron Age from an inscription on one of the Tjurkö bracteates, where walhakurne “Roman/Gallic grain” is apparently a kenning for “gold” (referring to the bracteate itself).

*Walhaz is almost certainly derived from the name of the tribe which was known to the Romans as Volcae (in the writings of Julius Caesar) and to the Greeks as Οὐόλκαι / Ouólkai (Strabo and Ptolemy). This tribe occupied territory neighbouring that of the Germanic people and seem to have been referred to by the proto-Germanic name *Walhaz (plural *Walhōz, adjectival form *walhiska-).

It is assumed that this term specifically referred to the Celtic Volcae, because application of Grimm’s law to that word produces the form *Walh-. Subsequently, this term *Walhōz was applied rather indiscriminately to the southern neighbours of the Germanic people, as evidenced in geographic names such as Walchgau and Walchensee in Bavaria.

These southern neighbours, however, were then already completely Romanised. Thus, Germanic speakers generalised this name first to all Celts, and later to all Romans. Old High German Walh became Walch in Middle High German, and the adjective OHG walhisk became MHG welsch, e.g. in the 1240 Alexander romance by Rudolf von Ems – resulting in Welsche in Early New High German and modern Swiss German as the exonym for all Romance speakers.

For instance, the historical German name for Trentino, the part of Tyrol with a Romance speaking majority, is Welschtirol, and the historical German name for Verona is Welschbern.

In Central and Eastern Europe, the word for Romance peoples was borrowed from the Goths (as *walhs) into Proto-Slavic some time before the 7th century. The first source using the word was the writings of Byzantine historian George Kedrenos in the mid-11th century.

From the Slavs the term passed to other peoples, such as the Hungarians (oláh, referring to Vlachs, more specifically Romanians, olasz, referring to Italians), Turks (“Ulahlar”) and Byzantines (“Vláhi”) and was used for all Latin people of the Balkans. Over time, the term Vlach (and its different forms) also acquired different meanings.

Ottoman Turks in the Balkans commonly used the term to denote native Balkan Christians (possibly due to the cultural link between Christianity and Roman culture), and in parts of the Balkans the term came to denote “shepherd” – from the occupation of many of the Vlachs throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The Polish words Włoch (pl. Włosi), “Italian”, and Włochy, “Italy”, and the Slovenian lah, a mildly derogatory word for “Italian”, can also be mentioned.

The Volcae were a tribal confederation constituted before the raid of combined Gauls that invaded Macedonia c. 270 BC and fought the assembled Greeks at the Battle of Thermopylae in 279 BC. Tribes known by the name Volcae were found simultaneously in southern Gaul, Moravia, the Ebro valley of the Iberian Peninsula, and Galatia in Anatolia.

The Volcae appear to have been part of the late La Tène material culture, and a Celtic identity has been attributed to the Volcae, based on mentions in Greek and Latin sources as well as onomastic evidence.

Driven by highly mobile groups operating outside the tribal system and comprising diverse elements, the Volcae were one of the new ethnic entities formed during the Celtic military expansion at the beginning of the 3rd century BC.

Collecting in the famous excursion into the Balkans, ostensibly, from the Hellene point of view, to raid Delphi, a branch of the Volcae split from the main group on the way into the Balkans and joined two other tribes, the Tolistobogii and the Trocmi, to settle in central Anatolia and establish a new identity as the Galatians.

The English translation of the Greek Galatai or Latin Galatae, Galli, or Gallograeci refer to either the Galatians or the Gauls in general. The Gauls were a group of Celtic peoples of West-Central Europe in the Iron Age and the Roman period (roughly from the 5th century BC to the 5th century AD). The area they inhabited was known as Gaul. Their Gaulish language forms the main branch of the Continental Celtic languages.

The Gauls emerged around the 5th century BC as the bearers of the La Tène culture north of the Alps (spread across the lands between the Seine, Middle Rhine and upper Elbe).

By the 4th century BC, they spread over much of what is now France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Southern Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia by virtue of controlling the trade routes along the river systems of the Rhône, Seine, Rhine, and Danube, and they quickly expanded into Northern Italy, the Balkans, Transylvania and Galatia.

Gaul was never united under a single ruler or government, but the Gallic tribes were capable of uniting their forces in large-scale military operations. They reached the peak of their power in the early 3rd century BC.

The rising Roman Republic after the end of the First Punic War increasingly put pressure on the Gallic sphere of influence; the Battle of Telamon of 225 BC heralded a gradual decline of Gallic power over the 2nd century, until the eventual conquest of Gaul in the Gallic Wars of the 50s BC.

After this, Gaul became a province of the Roman Empire, and the Gauls were ethnically and culturally largely assimilated into Latin (Roman settlers) majority, losing their tribal identities by the end of the 1st century AD.

The terms “Galatians” came to be used by the Greeks for the three Celtic peoples of Anatolia: the Tectosages, the Trocmii, and the Tolistobogii. All three tribes were beaten in 189 BCE by the Roman consul Gnaeus Manlius Vulso at the battles of Mt. Olympus and Mt. Magaba.

Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia (Ankara, Çorum, Yozgat Province) in modern Turkey. Galatia was named for the immigrant Gauls from Thrace (cf. Tylis), who settled here and became its ruling caste in the 3rd century BC, following the Gallic invasion of the Balkans in 279 BC. It has been called the “Gallia” of the East, Roman writers calling its inhabitants Galli (Gauls or Celts).

By the 4th century BC the Celts had penetrated into the Balkans, coming into contact with the Thracians, Macedonians and Greeks. In 380 BC they fought in the southern regions of Dalmatia (present day Croatia), and rumors circulated around the ancient world that Alexander the Great’s father, Philip II of Macedonia had been assassinated by a dagger of Celtic origins.

Arrian writes that “Celts established on the Ionic coast” were among those who came to meet Alexander the Great during a campaign against the Getae in 335 BC. Several ancient accounts mention that the Celts formed an alliance with Dionysius I of Syracuse who sent them to fight alongside the Macedonians against the Thebans.

In 279 BC two Celtic factions united under the leadership of Brennus and began to push southwards from southern Bulgaria towards the Greek states. According to Livy, a sizable force split off from this main group and head toward Asia Minor.

For several years a federation of Hellespontine cities, including Byzantion and Kalchedon prevented the Celts from entering Asia Minor but this changed when Nikomedes I of Bithynia allied with some of the Celtic leaders in a war against his brother Zipoetes and the Seleucid king Antiochus I.

When the Celts finally entered Asia Minor chaos ensued until the Celts were briefly routed by Antiochus’ army in the Battle of Elephants. In the aftermath of the battle the Celts withdrew to Phrygia, eventually settling in Galatia.

By the 1st century BC the Celts had become so Hellenized that some Greek writers called them Hellenogalatai. The Romans called them Gallograeci. Though the Celts had, to a large extent, integrated into Hellenistic Asia Minor, they preserved their linguistic and ethnic identity.

Although originally possessing a strong cultural identity, by the 2nd century AD, the Galatians had become assimilated (Hellenization) into the Hellenistic civilization of Anatolia. The fate of the Galatian people is a subject of some uncertainty, but they seem ultimately to have been absorbed into the Greek-speaking populations of Anatolia.

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