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    Default "The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas" (October 2011)

    The Origins of Agriculture in the Near East

    Melinda A. Zeder
    Current Anthropology , Vol. 52, No. S4, The Origins of Agriculture: New Data, New Ideas (October 2011), pp. S221-S235
    Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
    Article DOI: 10.1086/659307


    The emerging picture of plant and animal domestication and agricultural origins in the Near East is dramatically different from that drawn 16 years ago in a landmark article by Bar-Yosef and Meadow. While in 1995 there appeared to have been at least a 1,500-year gap between plant and animal domestication, it now seems that both occurred at roughly the same time, with initial management of morphologically wild future plant and animal domesticates reaching back to at least 11,500 cal BP, if not earlier. A focus on the southern Levant as the core area for crop domestication and diffusion has been replaced by a more pluralistic view that sees domestication of various crops and livestock occurring, sometimes multiple times in the same species, across the entire region. Morphological change can no longer be held to be a leading-edge indicator of domestication. Instead, it appears that a long period of increasingly intensive human management preceded the manifestation of archaeologically detectable morphological change in managed crops and livestock. Agriculture in the Near East arose in the context of broad-based systematic human efforts at modifying local environments and biotic communities to encourage plant and animal resources of economic interest. This process took place across the entire Fertile Crescent during a period of dramatic post-Pleistocene climate and environmental change with considerable regional variation in the scope and intensity of these activities as well as in the range of resources being manipulated.
    I [Nebuchadnezzar] made a trench searching for the old foundation deposits ( . . . ), and I found the foundation of Naram-Sin, the king of Babylon, a remote ancestor, and I did not remove his inscription, but put my own inscription together with his inscription.
    The Pious King: Royal Patronage of Temples
    By Caroline Waerzeggers

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