The Fertile Crescent in History

That area appears to have been the earliest site for a whole string of developments including cities , writing, empires, and what we term civilization.
It has the earliest definite dates for both plant domestication (around 8500 B.C. and animal domestication (around 8000 B.C.). [Earlier than China by 1000 years and Mesoamerica by 5000years].

It also has by far the largest number of accurate radio carbon dates for early food production. Imported domesticates may be thought as “ founder” crops and animals because they founded local food production. In three or four such areas , the arriving founder came from the Fertile Crescent . [Independent origins of domestication are : Fertile Crescent , China , Mesoamerica, Andes and Amazonia, Eastern United States, Sahel, Tropical west Africa, Ethiopia , New Guinea . All with varying dates the earliest been of the Fertile Crescent ]

Europeans today are heirs to one of the longest traditions of animal domestication on Earth [dog, sheep, goat, cow- that which began in the Fertile Crescent around 10.000- 6000 years ago.

The spread of Fertile Crescent crops across western Eurasia started around 7000 BC. Reached Greece and Cyprus and the Indian subcontinent by 6500 B.C., Egypt soon after 6000 B.C., central Europe by 5400 B.C., southern Spain by 5200 B.C., and Britain by 3500 B.C.

This was soon followed by that of other innovations originating in or near the Fertile Crescent including the wheel , writing, metalworking techniques, milking, fruit trees, and beer and wine productions.

Evidently most of the Fertile Crescent's founder crops were never domesticated again elsewhere after their initial domestications in the Fertile Crescent .

Writing:

There have been only a few occasions in history when people invented writing entirely on their own . The two indisputable independent inventions of writing were achieved by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia before 3000 B.C., and by Mexican Indians before 600 B.C.,

The independent invention that we can trace in greatest detail is history's oldest writing system, Sumerian cuneiform. The problem lay in how to devise agreed-on visible marks that represent actual spoken sounds rather than only ideas or else words independent of their pronunciation. The most important single step in the whole history of writing was the Sumerians' introduction of phonetic representation initially by writing an abstract noun (which could not be readily drawn as a picture.). [This operation started in the Sumerian city of Uruk , on the Euphrates River ].

Once Sumerians hit upon the phonetic principle they began to use it for more than just writing abstract nouns. This system evolve into a complex mixture of three types of signs: logograms (referring to a whole word or name); phonetic signs (used for spelling syllables, letters, parts of words; and determinatives (were not pronounced but were used to resolve ambiguities.

All of the hundreds of historical and now existing alphabets were ultimately derived from that ancestral Semitic alphabet, in a few cases (Irish ogham alphabet ) by idea diffusion , but in most by actual copying and modification of letter forms.

The State:

Tribal organization began to emerge around 13000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent .
States arose around 3700 B.C. in Mesopotamia and around 300 B.C in Mesoamerica, over 2000 years ago in the Andes, China , and Southeast Asia, and over 1000 years ago in West Africa .

References:

Guns, Germs and Steel
By Jared Diamond, Norton, 1999
Cradle of Civilization, Time -Life Books
The Near East in History, Hitti

Back


 
  Copyright © 2006 irth.sumer