National Geographic : 2011 Jun
Domesticated wheat Wild wheat 12,000 11,000 13,000 B.C. Cold, dry climate Warm, wet climate Communal area 18 people 0mi 100 0km 100 Present-day boundaries, rivers, and shorelines shown Nile Mediterranean EGYPT The rise of village life Early hunter-gatherer settlements--- some with several hundred people--- were largely abandoned when the warming climate chilled again for 1,200 years. About 9600 B.C. temperatures rose and villages rebounded, with people still foraging for most of their food and sharing it. As farming took hold and village populations increased, individual families fed themselves. KEY TO MAP AND GRAPHICS Natufian culture (13,000-10,000 B.C.) Pre-pottery Neolithic A (10,000-8500 B.C.) Pre-pottery Neolithic B (8500-6250 B.C.) FERNANDO G. BAPTISTA, NGM STAFF; PATRICIA HEALY; DEBBIE GIBBONS, NG STAFF MAP SOURCES: IAN KUIJT, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME; KLAUS SCHMIDT, JENS NOTROFF, AND OLIVER DIETRICH, GERMAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE; GEORGE WILLCOX, NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, FRANCE; MELINDA A. ZEDER, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION WHERE FARMING BEGAN The Fertile Crescent was the heartland of the Neolithic Revolution. Göbekli Tepe sat on the northern edge of this region that curves along the boundary between mountain and desert, rich in the wild grasses and game that became the first domesticated grains and livestock. By 6000 B.C. the transformation from hunter-gatherers to farmers was largely complete in this area. As selected sites on the map show, this shift--- whether driven by religious rituals, environmental changes, or popula- tion pressures---happened in different places and at different times. Plumper kernels distinguish domesticated grains from their wild ancestors. Wild kernels drop off when ripe, but domesticated strains hold their kernels, allowing a more predictable harvest. In Natufian settlements (named for a site where they were first excavated) hunter-gatherers built stacked-stone huts, prob- ably roofed with animal hides. NATUFIAN CULTURE Settlement Plant and animal domestication Monumental architecture Large man-made structure of earth or stone Ritual art Symbolic representation of surroundings, such as animal carvings Estimated average community size, based on studies in the southwest Fertile Crescent.