University of Natal, Durban
Faculty of Human Sciences
“Why was the fertile crescent so important in the history of the development of farming?”
Historians and Archaeologists agree that the most important event since the last Ice Age, or indeed since the evolution of human beings from their hominid ancestors, was the rise of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent by 8000 B.C. The economic, political, and technological developments that followed provided the foundation upon which modern civilisations were built.
The crescent is bow shaped tract of land in southwest Asia stretching from Jordan northwards to southern Turkey, then swinging southwards to the borders of Iraq and Iran, incorporating parts of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. The mountainous physical geography of the area was formed by movement of earth’s crust, forcing the Arabian Peninsula to collide with stable Iranian Plateau, resulting in a fold mountain range.
The Fertile Crescent’s importance in the history of the development of farming is intrinsically linked to its location on the globe. The crescent had both natural diversity and climatic advantages over other regions, placing it at the forefront of the so-called Neolithic revolution or era of Incipient Cultivation, where people changed from being hunter-gatherers to farmers.
In few very fertile and naturally productive parts of the world, hunter gathering could have supported small sedentary human populations. Throughout the rest of the world, the growth of large, dense, sedentary human populations relied wholly upon the production of food to support not only the farmers, but also the non-food producing members of the new population. The domestication of plants and animals provided a means by which such storable food surpluses could be generated.
The other regions where farming may have started independently (China, Mesoamerica, t...