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Civilization lead to agriculture not the opposite

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    Posted: 12 Jun 2011 at 15:07
Since my next big archaeological visit will be Göbekli Tepe (worlds first known temple), I try to keep myself up to date about the region.

According to earlier belief, civilization started with the agricultural revolution when people went from being hunter-gatherers to farmers. They were not mobile anymore and could create permanent settlements.

However, new evidence shows that before the agricultural revolution, there is a region stretching from central Messopotamia, the western Levant, Anatolia (until Catal Huyuk) and Cyprus, where hunter-gatherers created permanent settlements. The natufian cultures were the beginning of this. Recent discoveries in Cyprus show that hunter-gatherers domesticated animals and lived collectively around 9500 B.C. It seems like those humans found out that collecting food and storing it could be easier achieved if work was carried out collectively. This required more that one or two families, which lead to the creation of the permanent villages of the aceramic age. Those villages were established around public storage pits, where the people collected their food.

One important thing was the selection of territory. Since the knowledge of agriculture was still absent, the gatherers had to scout for the resources e.g grain. By moving around their resources would be available for other groups and that created also the need to have a permanent settlement. By scouting the resources, they understood why for e.g grain grew in specific places and this understanding lead later to the agricultural revolution.

Last but not least...Domestication of animals. In the representations of Nevalı Çori (Turkey) the people are always surrounded by those animals that were domesticated (cows, goats, sheep). The domestication of animals reduced the mobility as well, since they need stable food resource while they provide their owners with meat and milk.

So, how do you see one this? Does the history of civilization change a bit or not? Sumeria is no longer the centre of it and agriculture came after small communities had been established.



Nevali Cori 8600 - 7700BC (Turkey)



Göbekli Tepe 9600BC (Turkey)









Tenta-Kavalasos 9500 - 8500 BC (Cyprus)


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pinguin View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pinguin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2011 at 15:18
This is the egg-chicken paradox, who was first?

You pointed out something very important: that sedentary peoples existed before agriculture arose.
That's nothing new, actually, when one study the history of the Americas. Here, hunter-gatherers went sedentary before agriculture became an important factor.

Now, sedentarism is not the same than civilization. For civilizations to exist (according to the definition) you need large cities conected with complex networks of towns, centralized power, etc. You need a large population as well, that doesn't work in food production directly. In short, for civilization to come you already need a productive agriculture in place.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2011 at 15:32
That's the main debate Pinguin! Yes, from what we see in Gobekli Tepe there was a huge collection of settlements that built it. The builders lived in a radius of 150km from Gobekli Tepe. Their purpose was common and in order to achieve it they needed the administrative skills as well. That means that all those people were connected in every aspect of it (religion, language, lifestyle). Basically, what is uncovered in Turkey as we speak will render Stonehedge to a simple pile of rocks setup together. If people back in 9600 BC were artisans it means that there was a social order that could be something like this:

- Administrators / Leaders / Managers
- Religious leaders
- Gatherers
- Artisans
- Craftsmen

etc...


Edited by Flipper - 12 Jun 2011 at 15:33
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2011 at 18:28
Nothing novel here other than the testing of favored hypotheses:
 

Bellwood, Peter. First Farmers: The Origins of Agricultural Societies. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.

Braidwood, Robert . Prehistoric Men. Chicago: Chicago Natural History Museum, 1964.

Glassow, Michael A. "The concept of carrying capacity in the study of culture process" in Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory, Vol. 1, ed. M.B. Schiffer, pp. 31-48. New York: Academic Press, 1978.

Richerson, Peter J., Robert Boyd, and Robert L. Bettinger. "Was agriculture impossible during the Pleistocene but mandatory during the Holocene? A climate change hypothesis". American Antiquity 66(3):2001, pp. 387‑411.

Rindos, David. "Symbiosis, instability, and the origins and spread of agriculture: a new model". Current Anthropology 21(6): 1980. pp. 751-772.

Rindos, David. The Origins of Agriculture: An Evolutionary Perspective. New York: Academic Press, 1984.

Rindos, David. "Darwinism and its role in the explanation of domestication" in Foraging and Farming, D. R. Harris and G. C. Hillman, eds, pp. 27-41. London: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Winterhalder, Bruce. "Work, resources, and population in foraging societies". Man 28:1993, pp. 321‑340.

Winterhalder, Bruce and Carol Goland.  "An evolutionary ecology perspective on diet choice, risk, and plant domestication" in Kristen J. Gremillian, ed. Peoples, Plants, and Landscapes: Studies in Paleoethnobotany. Tuscaloosa, AL: U. of Alabama Press, 1997. 

Winterhalder, Bruce and Douglas Kennett  "Behavioral ecology and the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture" in Behavioral Ecology and the Transition to Agriculture, ed. D. Kennett and B. Winterhalder, pp. 1-21. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 2006.

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