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Ref ID: 35556
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: McCorriston, Joy
Hole, Frank
Title: The ecology of seasonal stress and the origins of agriculture in the Near East
Date: 1991
Source: American Anthropologist
Abstract: The time, place, and reasons for the first domestication of cereals and legumes in the Near East can now be securely identified using combined evidence from paleoenvironmental studies, models of ecosystem dynamics, and regional archeology. The heartland of domestication was the Jordan Valley and surrounding region in the Southern Levant. Approximately 10,000 years ago, people began planting crops where the wild ancestral species had proliferated over two millenia. Impetus for domestication came from the synergistic effects of climatic change, anthropogenic environmental change, technological change, and social innovation. At the end of the Pleistocene, after a long period of climatic instability, a mediterranean climate more strongly seasonal than any today emerged with hyper-arid summers that selected for annual species of cereals and legumes. This occurred long after people had invented tools suitable for grinding hard seeds, but the new, lengthy dry season and consequent need to use stored foods encouraged sedentism among human groups who subsequently depleted their immediate environments of wild resources. These preconditions facilitated the development of agriculture. The scenario developed here is specific to the Near East, for such case studies of specific factors in independent regions of domestication
Date Created: 3/30/2001
Volume: 93
Number: 1
Page Start: 46
Page End: 69