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The Fertile Crescent ( ar, الهلال الخصيب) is a crescent-shaped region in the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabian Peninsula, Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Anatolia, Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Pro ...
, spanning modern-day
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, Palestine and
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levan ...
, together with the northern region of
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq to Iraq–Ku ...
, southeastern region of
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
and the western portion of
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
. Some authors also include
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Its continental position is disputed; while it is geo ...
and Northern
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
. The Fertile Crescent is believed to be the very first region where settled farming emerged as people started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation to grow newly domesticated plants as
crop A crop is a plant that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence agriculture, subsistence. When the plants of the same kind are cultivated at one place on a large scale, it is called a crop. Most crops are cultivated in a ...
s. Early human
civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society characterized by the development of a state, social stratification, urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from Rural area, rural to urban are ...
s such as
Sumer Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (south-central Iraq), emerging during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age, early Bronze Ages between the sixth and fifth millennium BC. It is one of ...
in Mesopotamia flourished as a result. Technological advances in the region include the development of
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
and the use of
irrigation Irrigation (also referred to as watering) is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow Crop, crops, Landscape plant, landscape plants, and Lawn, lawns. Irrigation has been a key aspect of agriculture for over 5,00 ...
, of
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...
, the
wheel A wheel is a circular component that is intended to rotate on an axle Bearing (mechanical), bearing. The wheel is one of the key components of the wheel and axle which is one of the Simple machine, six simple machines. Wheels, in conjunction wi ...
, and
glass Glass is a non-Crystallinity, crystalline, often transparency and translucency, transparent, amorphous solid that has widespread practical, technological, and decorative use in, for example, window panes, tableware, and optics. Glass is most ...
, most emerging first in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
.


Terminology

The term "Fertile Crescent" was popularized by
archaeologist Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of Artifact (archaeology), artifacts, architecture, biofact (archaeology), biofacts ...
James Henry Breasted James Henry Breasted (; August 27, 1865 – December 2, 1935) was an Americans, American archaeologist, Egyptologist, and historian. After completing his PhD at the Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Berlin in 1894, he joined the faculty ...
in ''Outlines of European History'' (1914) and ''Ancient Times, A History of the Early World'' (1916). He wrote: There no single term for this region in antiquity. At the time that Breasted was writing, it roughly corresponded with the territories of the
Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire, * ; is an archaic version. The definite article forms and were synonymous * and el, Оθωμανική Αυτοκρατορία, Othōmanikē Avtokratoria, label=none * info page on book at Martin Luther University) ...
ceded to Britain and France in the
Sykes–Picot Agreement The Sykes–Picot Agreement () was a 1916 secret treaty between the United Kingdom and France, with assent from the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Italy, to define their mutually agreed Sphere of influence, spheres of influence and control in a ...
. Historian Thomas Scheffler has noted that Breasted was following a trend in Western geography to "overwrite the classical geographical distinctions between continents, countries and landscapes with large, abstract spaces", drawing parallels with the work of
Halford Mackinder Sir Halford John Mackinder (15 February 1861 – 6 March 1947) was an English geographer, academic and politician, who is regarded as one of the founding fathers of both geopolitics and geostrategy. He was the first Principal of University Ext ...
, who conceptualised Eurasia as a 'pivot area' surrounded by an 'inner crescent', Alfred Thayer Mahan's
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233: ) is a geopolitical region commonly encompassing Arabian Peninsula, Arabia (including the Arabian Peninsula and Bahrain), Anatolia, Asia Minor (Asian part of Turkey except Hatay Pro ...
, and Friedrich Naumann's ''
Mitteleuropa (), meaning Middle Europe, is one of the German language, German terms for Central Europe. The term has acquired diverse cultural, political and historical connotations. University of Warsaw, Johnson, Lonnie (1996) ''Central Europe: Enemies, Nei ...
''. In current usage, the Fertile Crescent includes
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, Palestine,
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
,
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
, and
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levan ...
, as well as the surrounding portions of
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
and
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
. In addition to the
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western A ...
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
, riverwater sources include the
Jordan River The Jordan River or River Jordan ( ar, نَهْر الْأُرْدُنّ, ''Nahr al-ʾUrdunn'', he, נְהַר הַיַּרְדֵּן, ''Nəhar hayYardēn''; syc, ܢܗܪܐ ܕܝܘܪܕܢܢ ''Nahrāʾ Yurdnan''), also known as ''Nahr Al-Shariea ...
. The inner boundary is delimited by the dry climate of the
Syrian Desert The Syrian Desert ( ar, بادية الشام ''Bādiyat Ash-Shām''), also known as the North Arabian Desert, the Jordanian steppe, or the Badiya, is a region of desert, semi-desert and steppe covering of the Middle East, including parts of ...
to the south. Around the outer boundary are the
Anatolia Anatolia (also Asia Minor), is a large peninsula in Western Asia and is the western-most extension of continental Asia. The land mass of Anatolia constitutes most of the territory of contemporary Turkey. Geographically, the Anatolian region i ...
n and Armenian highlands to the north, the
Sahara Desert , photo = Sahara real color.jpg , photo_caption = The Sahara taken by Apollo 17 astronauts, 1972 , map = , map_image = , location = , country = , country1 = , ...
to the west,
Sudan Sudan ( or ; ar, السودان, as-Sūdān, officially the Republic of the Sudan ( ar, جمهورية السودان, link=no, Jumhūriyyat as-Sūdān), is a country in Northeast Africa. It shares borders with the Central African Republic ...
to the south, and the
Iranian plateau The Iranian plateau or Persian plateau is a geology, geological feature in Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. It comprises part of the Eurasian Plate and is wedged between the Arabian Plate and the Indian Plate; situated between th ...
to the east.


Biodiversity and climate

As crucial as rivers and
marsh A marsh is a wetland that is dominated by Herbaceous plant, herbaceous rather than woody plant species.Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p Marshes can ...
lands were to the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, they were not the only factor. The area is geographically important as the "bridge" between
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
and
Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it spans from the British Isles and the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Ja ...
, which has allowed it to retain a greater amount of
biodiversity Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic (''genetic variability''), species (''species diversity''), and ecosystem (''ecosystem d ...
than either
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
or
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
, where
climate change In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate variability and change, Climate change in a broader sense also includes ...
s during the
Ice Age An ice age is a long period of reduction in the temperature of Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental and polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers. Earth's climate alternates between ice ages and Green ...
led to repeated
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (taxon), usually a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the Endling, last individual of the species, although the Functional ext ...
events when ecosystems became squeezed against the waters of the
Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa, and on the e ...
. The Saharan pump theory posits that this Middle Eastern
land bridge In biogeography, a land bridge is an isthmus or wider land connection between otherwise separate areas, over which animals and plant Plants are predominantly Photosynthesis, photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom ...
was extremely important to the modern distribution of
Old World The "Old World" is a term for Afro-Eurasia that originated in Europe , after Europeans became aware of the existence of the Americas. It is used to contrast the continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia, which were previously thought of by thei ...
flora Flora is all the plant life present in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring (indigenous (ecology), indigenous) native plant, native plants. Sometimes bacteria and fungi are also referred to as flora, as in the terms '' ...
and
fauna Fauna is all of the animal life present in a particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is ''flora'', and for fungi, it is ''funga''. Flora, fauna, funga and other forms of life are collectively referred to as ''Biota (ecology ...
, including the spread of humanity. The area has borne the brunt of the tectonic divergence between the African and Arabian plates and the converging Arabian and Eurasian plates, which has made the region a very diverse zone of high snow-covered mountains. The Fertile Crescent had many diverse
climate Climate is the long-term weather pattern in an area, typically averaged over 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables over a time spanning from months to millions of years. Some of the meteorologi ...
s, and major climatic changes encouraged the evolution of many "r" type
annual plant An annual plant is a plant that completes its biological life cycle, life cycle, from germination to the production of seeds, within one growing season, and then dies. The length of growing seasons and period in which they take place vary accor ...
s, which produce more edible seeds than "K" type
perennial plant A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term (''wikt:per-#Prefix, per-'' + ''wikt:-ennial#Suffix, -ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annual pl ...
s. The region's dramatic variety in elevation gave rise to many species of edible plants for early experiments in cultivation. Most importantly, the Fertile Crescent was home to the eight
Neolithic founder crops The founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were Domestication, domesticated by early Neolithic farming communities in Southwest Asia and went on to form the basis of agriculture, agricultural economies across much ...
important in early
agriculture Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
(i.e., wild progenitors to emmer wheat, einkorn,
barley Barley (''Hordeum vulgare''), a member of the grass family, is a major cereal grain grown in temperate climates globally. It was one of the first cultivated grains, particularly in Eurasia Eurasia (, ) is the largest continental area o ...
,
flax Flax, also known as common flax or linseed, is a flowering plant, ''Linum usitatissimum'', in the family Linaceae. It is cultivated as a food and fiber crop in regions of the world with temperate climates. Textiles made from flax are known in W ...
, chick pea,
pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the flowering plant species ''Pisum sativum''. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Botanically, pea pods are fruit, since they contain seeds and d ...
,
lentil The lentil (''Lens culinaris'' or ''Lens esculenta'') is an edible legume. It is an annual plant known for its Lens (geometry), lens-shaped seeds. It is about tall, and the seeds grow in Legume, pods, usually with two seeds in each. As a food ...
, bitter vetch), and four of the five most important species of
domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which humans assume a significant degree of control over the reproduction and care of another group of organisms to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that group. A ...
animals— cows,
goat The goat or domestic goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of Caprinae, goat-antelope typically kept as livestock. It was domesticated from the wild goat (''C. aegagrus'') of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a membe ...
s,
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
, and
pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus ''Sus (genus), Sus'', is an Omnivore, omnivorous, Domestication, domesticated, even-toed ungulate, even-toed, hoofed ma ...
s; the fifth species, the
horse The horse (''Equus ferus caballus'') is a Domestication, domesticated, odd-toed ungulate, one-toed, ungulate, hoofed mammal. It belongs to the taxonomic family Equidae and is one of two Extant taxon, extant subspecies of wild horse, ''Equus fer ...
, lived nearby. The Fertile Crescent flora comprises a high percentage of plants that can self-pollinate, but may also be cross-pollinated. These plants, called " selfers", were one of the geographical advantages of the area because they did not depend on other plants for reproduction.


History

As well as possessing many sites with the skeletal and cultural remains of both pre-modern and early
modern humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species of primate, characterized by bipedality, bipedalism and exceptional cognitive skills due to a large and complex Human brain, brain. This has enabled the development of ad ...
(e.g., at Tabun and Es Skhul caves in Israel), later
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the '' Ice age'') is the geological epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the Earth's most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change was finally confirmed ...
hunter-gatherer A traditional hunter-gatherer or forager is a human living an ancestrally derived lifestyle (sociology), lifestyle in which most or all food is obtained by foraging, that is, by gathering food from local sources, especially edible wild plants bu ...
s, and
Epipalaeolithic In archaeology, the Epipalaeolithic or Epipaleolithic (sometimes Epi-paleolithic etc.) is a period occurring between the Upper Paleolithic The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic ...
semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers (the
Natufian The Natufian culture () is a Late Epipaleolithic (Levant), Epipaleolithic archaeological culture of the Levant, dating to around 15,000 to 11,500 years ago. The culture was unusual in that it supported a Sedentism, sedentary or semi-sedentary pop ...
s); the Fertile Crescent is most famous for its sites related to the origins of agriculture. The western zone around the Jordan and upper Euphrates rivers gave rise to the first known
Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several pa ...
farming Agriculture or farming is the practice of cultivating Plant, plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of Sedentism, sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of Domestication, domesticated species created food ...
settlements (referred to as
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Ancient Anatolians, Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to years ago, that is, 10,000–8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in ...
(PPNA)), which date to around 9,000 BCE and includes very ancient sites such as Göbekli Tepe, Chogha Golan, and Jericho (Tell es-Sultan). This region, alongside
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
(Greek for "between rivers", between the rivers
Tigris The Tigris () is the easternmost of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western A ...
and
Euphrates The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Tigris–Euphrates river system, Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia ( ''the land between the rivers'') ...
, lies in the east of the Fertile Crescent), also saw the emergence of early complex societies during the succeeding
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
. There is also early evidence from the region for
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...
and the formation of
hierarchical A hierarchy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) that are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy i ...
state level societies. This has earned the region the nickname "The
cradle of civilization A cradle of civilization is a location and a culture where civilization was created by mankind independent of other civilizations in other locations. The formation of urban settlements (cities) is the primary characteristic of a society that ...
". It is in this region where the first
libraries A library is a collection of Document, materials, books or media that are accessible for use and not just for display purposes. A library provides physical (hard copies) or electronic media, digital access (soft copies) materials, and may be a ...
appeared about 4,500 years ago. The oldest known libraries are found in
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logogram, logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. Akkadian language, Akkadian: '' ...
(in Sumer) and
Ebla Ebla (Sumerian language, Sumerian: ''eb₂-la'', ar, إبلا, modern: , Tell Mardikh) was one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria. Its remains constitute a Tell (archaeology), tell located about southwest of Aleppo near the village of Mard ...
(in Syria), both from c. 2500 BCE. Both the Tigris and Euphrates start in the
Taurus Mountains The Taurus Mountains (Turkish language, Turkish: ''Toros Dağları'' or ''Toroslar'') are a mountain range, mountain complex in southern Turkey, separating the Mediterranean Region, Turkey, Mediterranean coastal region from the central Anatolia# ...
of what is modern-day
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
. Farmers in southern Mesopotamia had to protect their fields from flooding each year. Northern Mesopotamia had sufficient rain to make some farming possible. To protect against flooding they made levees. Since the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
, the region's natural
fertility Fertility is the capability to produce offspring In biology, offspring are the young creation of living organisms, produced either by a Asexual reproduction, single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collective ...
has been greatly extended by
irrigation Irrigation (also referred to as watering) is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow Crop, crops, Landscape plant, landscape plants, and Lawn, lawns. Irrigation has been a key aspect of agriculture for over 5,00 ...
works, upon which much of its agricultural production continues to depend. The last two millennia have seen repeated cycles of decline and recovery as past works have fallen into disrepair through the replacement of states, to be replaced under their successors. Another ongoing problem has been salination—gradual concentration of salt and other minerals in soils with a long history of irrigation.


Early domestications

Prehistoric seedless figs were discovered at Gilgal I in the
Jordan Valley The Jordan Valley ( ar, غور الأردن, ''Ghor al-Urdun''; he, עֵמֶק הַיַרְדֵּן, ''Emek HaYarden'') forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. Unlike most other river valleys, the term "Jordan Valley" often applies just to ...
, suggesting that fig trees were being planted some 11,400 years ago.
Cereal A cereal is any Poaceae, grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, Cereal germ, germ, and bran. Cereal Grain, grain crops are grown in greater quantit ...
s were already grown in
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
as long as 9,000 years ago. Small cats (''Felis silvestris'') also were domesticated in this region. Also,
legume A legume () is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. When used as a dry grain, the seed is also called a pulse. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for human consumption, for livestock for ...
s including
peas The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the flowering plant species ''Pisum sativum''. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Botanically, pea pods are fruit, since they contain seeds and d ...
,
lentils The lentil (''Lens culinaris'' or ''Lens esculenta'') is an edible legume. It is an annual plant known for its Lens (geometry), lens-shaped seeds. It is about tall, and the seeds grow in Legume, pods, usually with two seeds in each. As a food ...
and
chickpea The chickpea or chick pea (''Cicer arietinum'') is an annual plant, annual legume of the family (biology), family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Its different types are variously known as gram" or Bengal gram, garbanzo or garbanzo bean, or Egypti ...
were domesticated in this region.
Domesticated animals This page gives a list of domesticated animals, also including a list of domestication of animals, animals which are or may be currently undergoing the process of domestication and animals that have an extensive relationship with humans beyond simp ...
include the
cattle Cattle (''Bos taurus'') are large, domestication, domesticated, Cloven hoof, cloven-hooved, herbivores. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae and the most widespread species of the genus ''Bos''. Adult females are referr ...
,
sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in everyday usage it almost always refers to domesticated sh ...
,
goat The goat or domestic goat (''Capra hircus'') is a domesticated species of Caprinae, goat-antelope typically kept as livestock. It was domesticated from the wild goat (''C. aegagrus'') of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a membe ...
,
domestic pig The pig (''Sus domesticus''), often called swine, hog, or domestic pig when distinguishing from other members of the genus ''Sus (genus), Sus'', is an Omnivore, omnivorous, Domestication, domesticated, even-toed ungulate, even-toed, hoofed ma ...
,
cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a Domestication of the cat, domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it ...
, and domestic goose.


Cosmopolitan diffusion

Modern analyses comparing 24 craniofacial measurements reveal a relatively diverse population within the pre-
Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several pa ...
,
Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several pa ...
and
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
Fertile Crescent, supporting the view that several populations occupied this region during these time periods. Similar arguments do not hold true for the
Basques The Basques ( or ; eu, euskaldunak ; es, vascos ; french: basques ) are a Southwestern European ethnic group, characterised by the Basque language, a Basque culture, common culture and shared genetic ancestry to the ancient Vascones and Aquit ...
and
Canary Island The Canary Islands (; es, :es:Canarias, Canarias, ), also known informally as the Canaries, are a Spanish Autonomous communities of Spain, autonomous community and archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, in Macaronesia. At their closest point to ...
ers of the same time period, as the studies demonstrate those ancient peoples to be "clearly associated with modern Europeans". Additionally, no evidence from the studies demonstrates
Cro-Magnon Early European modern humans (EEMH), or Cro-Magnons, were the first early modern humans (''Homo sapiens'') to settle in Europe, migrating from Western Asia, continuously occupying the continent possibly from as early as 56,800 years ago. They i ...
influence, contrary to former suggestions. The studies further suggest a
diffusion Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Diffusion is driven by a gradient in Gibbs free energy or chemical p ...
of this diverse population away from the Fertile Crescent, with the early migrants moving away from the
Near East The ''Near East''; he, המזרח הקרוב; arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ; fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik; tr, Yakın Doğu is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental region in Western Asia, that was once the hist ...
—westward into
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
and
North Africa North Africa, or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in t ...
, northward to
Crimea Crimea, crh, Къырым, Qırım, grc, Κιμμερία / Ταυρική, translit=Kimmería / Taurikḗ ( ) is a peninsula in Ukraine, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, that has been Russian occupation of Crimea, occupied by Ru ...
, and northeastward to
Mongolia Mongolia; Mongolian script: , , ; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia" () is a landlocked country in East Asia, bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia border, to the north and China China–Mongolia border, to the s ...
. They took their agricultural practices with them and interbred with the
hunter-gatherer A traditional hunter-gatherer or forager is a human living an ancestrally derived lifestyle (sociology), lifestyle in which most or all food is obtained by foraging, that is, by gathering food from local sources, especially edible wild plants bu ...
s whom they subsequently came in contact with while perpetuating their farming practices. This supports prior genetic and
archaeological Archaeology or archeology is the scientific study of human activity through the recovery and analysis of material culture. The archaeological record consists of artifacts, architecture, biofacts or ecofacts, sites, and cultural landscapes ...
studies which have all arrived at the same conclusion. Consequently, contemporary ''
in situ ''In situ'' (; often not italicized in English) is a Latin phrase that translates literally to "on site" or "in position." It can mean "locally", "on site", "on the premises", or "in place" to describe where an event takes place and is used in ...
'' peoples absorbed the agricultural way of life of those early migrants who ventured out of the Fertile Crescent. This is contrary to the suggestion that the spread of agriculture disseminated out of the Fertile Crescent by way of sharing of knowledge. Instead, the view now supported by a preponderance of evidence is that it occurred by actual migration out of the region, coupled with subsequent interbreeding with indigenous local populations whom the migrants came in contact with. The studies show also that not all present day
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
ans share strong genetic affinities to the
Neolithic The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is an Old World archaeological period and the final division of the Stone Age. It saw the Neolithic Revolution, a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several pa ...
and
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of ...
inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent; the closest ties to the Fertile Crescent rest with Southern Europeans. The same study further demonstrates all present-day
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a Continent#Subcontinents, subcontinent of Eurasia ...
ans to be closely related.


Languages

Linguistically, the Fertile Crescent was a region of great diversity. Historically,
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and latterly North Africa, Malta, West Africa, Chad, and in large immigrant and ...
generally prevailed in the modern regions of
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
,
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or سُورِيَة, translit=Sūriyā), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, الجمهورية العربية السورية, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a Western Asian country loc ...
,
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; Romanization of Arabic, tr. ' is a country in Western Asia. It is situated at the crossroads of Asia, Africa, and Europe, within the Levan ...
,
Lebanon Lebanon ( , ar, لُبْنَان, translit=lubnān, ), officially the Republic of Lebanon () or the Lebanese Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is located between Syria to Lebanon–Syria border, the north and east and Israel to Blue ...
,
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, ; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, ), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated ...
, Palestine, Sinai and the fringes of southeast
Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Türkiye ( tr, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti, links=no ), is a transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolia, Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a East Thrace, small portion on th ...
and northwest
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
, as well as the Sumerian (a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
) in Iraq, whilst in the mountainous areas to the east and north a number of generally unrelated
language isolates Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
were found, including; Elamite, Gutian and
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1531 BC and until c. 1155 BC (Chronology_of_the_ancient_Near_East#Variant_Middle_Bronze_Age_chronologies, short chron ...
in
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...
, and Hattic, Kaskian and Hurro-Urartian in Turkey. The precise affiliation of these, and their date of arrival, remain topics of scholarly discussion. However, given lack of textual evidence for the earliest era of prehistory, this debate is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. The evidence that does exist suggests that, by the third millennium BCE and into the second, several language groups already existed in the region. These included: * Proto-Euphratean language: a non-Semitic language previously hypothesized to be the
substratum In linguistics, a stratum (Latin for "layer") or strate is a language that influences or is influenced by another through language contact, contact. A substratum or substrate is a language that has lower power or prestige than another, while a s ...
language of the people that introduced farming into Southern
Iraq Iraq,; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq officially the Republic of Iraq, '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to Iraq–Turkey border, the north, Iran to Iran–Iraq ...
in the Early
Ubaid period The Ubaid period (c. 6500–3700 BC) is a prehistory, prehistoric period of Mesopotamia. The name derives from Tell al-'Ubaid where the earliest large excavation of Ubaid period material was conducted initially in 1919 by Henry Hall (Egyptologist) ...
. (5300–4700 BCE) The linguistic consensus today is that multiple unknown substrata contributed to the formation of the artifacts in Sumerian names that motivated the Proto-Euphratean substrate hypothesis, including fossilized archaic elements from earlier stages of Sumerian itself. Another theory proposes that the pre-writing substrate was an early
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
tentatively called Euphratic. * Sumerian: a non-Semitic
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
that displays a
Sprachbund A sprachbund (, lit. "language federation"), also known as a linguistic area, area of linguistic convergence, or diffusion area, is a group of languages that share areal features resulting from geographical proximity and language contact. The lang ...
-type relationship with neighbouring Semitic Akkadian *
Elamite language Elamite, also known as Hatamtite and formerly as Susian, is an extinct language that was spoken by the ancient Elamites. It was used in what is now southwestern Iran from 2600 BC to 330 BC. Elamite works disappear from the archeological record a ...
: a non-Semitic
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
*
Semitic languages The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of West Asia, the Horn of Africa, and latterly North Africa, Malta, West Africa, Chad, and in large immigrant and ...
: Akkadian (aka Assyrian and Babylonian), Eblaite,
Amorite The Amorites (; sux, 𒈥𒌅, MAR.TU; Akkadian language, Akkadian: 𒀀𒈬𒊒𒌝 or 𒋾𒀉𒉡𒌝/𒊎 ; he, אֱמוֹרִי, 'Ĕmōrī; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic-speaking people ...
,
Aramaic Aramaic ( syc, ܐܪܡܝܐ, Arāmāyā; oar, 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; arc, 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; tmr, אֲרָמִית) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic languages, Semitic language that originated in the ancient Syria (regio ...
,
Ugaritic Ugaritic () is an extinct Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language, classified by some as a dialect of the Amorite language and so the only known Amorite dialect preserved in writing. It is known through the Ugaritic texts discov ...
,
Canaanite languages The Canaanite languages, or Canaanite dialects, are one of the three Genetic relationship (linguistics), subgroups of the Northwest Semitic languages, the others being Aramaic language, Aramaic and Ugaritic language, Ugaritic, all originating in ...
(including
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
, Moabite, Edomite, Phoenician/ Carthaginian) * Hattic: a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most common examples. Other language isolates include Ainu language, Ainu in Asia, Sandawe ...
, spoken originally in
central Anatolia The Central Anatolia Region ( tr, İç Anadolu Bölgesi) is a Geographical regions of Turkey, geographical region of Turkey. The largest city in the region is Ankara. Other big cities are Konya, Kayseri, Eskişehir, Sivas, and Aksaray. Located i ...
*
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to the languages of Europe, overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent. Some European languages of this family, English language, Englis ...
: generally believed to be later intrusive languages arriving after 2000 BCE, such as Hittite,
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian language ...
and the Indo-Aryan material attested in the
Mitanni Mitanni (; Hittite cuneiform ; ''Mittani'' '), c. 1550–1260 BC, earlier called Ḫabigalbat in old Babylonian texts, c. 1600 BC; Hanigalbat or Hani-Rabbat (''Hanikalbat'', ''Khanigalbat'', cuneiform ') in Assyria Assyria (Neo-Assyri ...
civilization * Egyptian: a stand-alone branch of the
Afroasiatic languages The Afroasiatic languages (or Afro-Asiatic), also known as Hamito-Semitic, or Semito-Hamitic, and sometimes also as Afrasian, Erythraean or Lisramic, are a language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the geographic su ...
confined to
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مصر , ), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a List of transcontinental countries, transcontinental country spanning the North Africa, northeast corner of Africa and Western Asia, southwest corner of Asia via a land bridg ...
* Hurro-Urartian languages, a small family. The Kassite language spoken in the northern part of the region may have belonged to this family. Links between Hurro-Urartian and Hattic and the indigenous languages of the Caucasus have frequently been suggested, but are not generally accepted.


See also

* Beth Nahrain * Hilly Flanks *
History of agriculture Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least eleven separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin. The development of agricultur ...
*
History of Mesopotamia The history of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system ...
* Hydraulic empire


References


Bibliography

*Jared Diamond, ''Guns, Germs, and Steel, Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years'', 1997. *Anderson, Clifford Norman. ''The Fertile Crescent: Travels In the Footsteps of Ancient Science''. 2d ed., rev. Fort Lauderdale: Sylvester Press, 1972. *Deckers, Katleen. ''Holocene Landscapes Through Time In the Fertile Crescent''. Turnhout: Brepols, 2011. *Ephʻal, Israel. ''The Ancient Arabs: Nomads On the Borders of the Fertile Crescent 9th–5th Centuries B.C.'' Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1982. *Kajzer, Małgorzata, Łukasz Miszk, and Maciej Wacławik. ''The Land of Fertility I: South-East Mediterranean Since the Bronze Age to the Muslim Conquest''. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016. *Kozłowski, Stefan Karol. ''The Eastern Wing of the Fertile Crescent: Late Prehistory of Greater Mesopotamian Lithic Industries''. Oxford: Archaeopress, 1999. * * *Thomas, Alexander R. ''The Evolution of the Ancient City: Urban Theory and the Archaeology of the Fertile Crescent''. Lanham: Lexington Books/Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010.


External links


''Ancient Fertile Crescent Almost Gone, Satellite Images Show''
from National Geographic Society, National Geographic News, May 18, 2001. * http://www.claudiusptolemy.org/AbshireGusevStafeyev_ProceedingsVenice2017.pdf Corey Abshire , Dmitri Gusev , Sergey Stafeyev The Fertile Crescent in Ptolemy’s “Geography”: a new digital reconstruction for modern GIS tools {{coord, 36, N, 40, E, source:wikidata, display=title 1910s neologisms Ancient Near East Eastern Mediterranean History of the Mediterranean Physiographic divisions Historical regions Divided regions Cradle of civilization