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The Agricultural Revolution in PrehistoryWhy did Foragers become Farmers?$
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Graeme Barker

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199281091

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199281091.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 October 2021

The ‘Hearth of Domestication’? Transitions to Farming in South-West Asia

The ‘Hearth of Domestication’? Transitions to Farming in South-West Asia

(p.104) 4 The ‘Hearth of Domestication’? Transitions to Farming in South-West Asia
The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory

Graeme Barker

Oxford University Press

The principal focus of this chapter is the classic zone of early farming research from the 1960s onwards, the so-called ‘hilly flanks of the Fertile Crescent’ in South-West Asia (Fig. 4.1). This region is normally defined as the arc of hill country to the west of the Syrian desert and to the north and east of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys. The western side of the arc begins east of the Nile in the Sinai and the Gulf of Arabah on the southern border of Israel and Jordan; it continues northwards as the hill country on either side of the Jordan rift valley in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, western Jordan, and western Syria (the so-called ‘Levantine corridor’); and extends westwards to the Mediterranean littoral. The northern sector is formed by the Taurus mountains along the southern edge of the Anatolian plateau, which curve eastwards from the Mediterranean coast in northern Syria to form the present-day Syrian–Turkish border. The eastern sector consists of the Zagros mountains, running south-eastwards from eastern Turkey and north-west Iran to the Persian Gulf, forming the Iraq–Iran border for most of their length, and continuing in south-west Iran beyond the Persian Gulf towards the Straits of Hormuz. The region also embraces adjacent zones: the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the vast tracts of steppe and desert country separating them from the Levantine, Taurus, and Zagros upland systems; the Anatolian plateau to the north of the Taurus, within modern Turkey; and the Iranian plateau east of the Zagros, within modern Iran. The archaeological literature commonly uses the term Near East to describe the main region of interest, with the Levant for its western side (a term also used in this chapter), and South-West Asia for the eastern side, but the entire region is more correctly termed South-West Asia. The upland areas of the region mostly receive more than 200 millimetres of rainfall a year, which is the minimum required for growing cereals without irrigation. Rainfall decreases drastically moving out into the steppe and desert zones.

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