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Food                  9,000 BC
Africa
Southwest Asia
Egypt
Indus Valley
China
Europe
South America
Mesoamerica
North America
Other

Africa

It appears that the first incursions of nomads into the southern Sahara, which came from the south, did not take place until around 12 kya. At around the same time migrants may also have entered the northern Sahara from the Mediterranean coast. There is evidence of their presence by 11.5 kya in the Acacus Mountains of Libyan Sahara. What is even more interesting is that between 9 and 8 kya these people had developed a hunting strategy that involved the capture, penning and feeding of Barbary sheep to manage their food supplies more efficiently. (145)

Southwest Asia

 In the archaeological record of the Natufian Period, from about 12,500 to 10,200 years ago, in the Levant we see clear evidence of agricultural origins. The stone tools of the Natufians include many lunate (i.e., shaped like a segment of the moon) flakes of chert, but there is also something new: they used "sickle blades" that show apperant wear characteristic of cereal harvesting. Also, querns (hand mills), mortars, pestles, pounders, and other ground-stone tools occur in abundance at Natufian sites, and many such tools show signs of long, intensive use. There is also evidence that these heavy grinding stones were transported long distances, more than thirty kilometers in some cases, and this is not something known to have been done by peoples of proceeding periods.(26)

The Natufians had a different settlement pattern from that of their predecessors. Some of their "base camps" are far larger (over 1,000 square meters) than any of the earlier periods, and they may have lived in some of these camps for half of the year or even more. In some of the camps people made foundations and other architectural elements out of limestone blocks. Trade in shells, obsidian, and other commodities seems to have been on the rise, and we suspect that exchange of perishables, such as skins, foodstuffs,and salt was also increasing.(26)

Domestic cattle were herded on the Anatolian Plateau (central Turkey) by about 6,500 BC. As with sheep and goats, cattle domestication seems to have been a widespread phenomenon, probably beginning sometime after 9,000 BC and occurring in many areas from China to western Europe. Across this vast area, ancient farmers seem to have bred cattle for reduced size, increased docility and milk production, and increased tolerance of climatic conditions. Cattle were probably especially important to the first settlers on the southern Mesopotamian alluvial plain. During the dry, hot summers in this region, few reliable protein sources arfe available to primitive agriculturalists, and cow meat and milk apparently provided a crucial nutritional component.(27)

The Younger Dryas ended 11,400 years ago, as abruptly as it had begun. Warmth and rain softened the harshness of the surrounding countryside, and over a period of a few hundred years the landscape was revitalized as game and the wild fruits, nuts, and grasses returned. People began to move away from the oases, taking with them the newly acquired skill of farming. They spread into Anatolia, the Levant, and northern Mesopotamia, flourishing in the valleys that were well watered again and along the shores of lakes. (131)

...at a mound in northern Syria which overlooks the rushing waters of the Upper Euphrates, some of the very oldest evidence of proto-agriculture and animal farming has been unearthed. Radiocarbon dating of organic material found at the site, known locally as Tell Abu Hureya, has shown that the domestication of primitive forms of barley, wheat and rye may have occurred as early as 9500 BC. (149)

...Jericho is now known to be the oldest living city in the world, having been almost continuously occupied for the last 11,000 years. The original, small settlement had been constructed next to a perennial spring but around 10,000 years ago it suddenly developed into a town covering ten acres. For the first 2,000 years the small population is known to have kept wild animals, such as the gazelle, the fox and small ruminants, for its food supply. However, once the stone-built city had been established, the diet of the much increased population shifted in favour of new breeds of domesticated animals such as goats, sheep, pigs and cattle. (160)

Egypt

 Excavations in the Nile Valley have revealed campsites that date from 16,000 BC to around 9000 BC, but these sites reflect a society subsisting on rigorous hunting and fishing. Known as the Sebilian culture, these sites clearly show a decrease in the size of tools. Although knowledgeable about animal domestication near the end of the period, the Sebilians were nothing more than the traditional hunter-gatherers of the Old Stone Age From 9000 to 6000 BC, there exists a "dark age" in North African history, from which little information is available. During this time, the Sebilians were living in the valley. Afterward, New Stone Age communities began to dot the landscape with a new concept of living centered on agriculture, yet the Sebilians held fast to their traditional ways of hunting and fishing. Some believe that agriculture was introduced from outside to these hunter-gatherers, who were not eager to become farmers. (70)

Indus Valley

 An epoch of spectacular geological turmoil occurred at the end of the last Ice Age, with the most dramatic effects registered in a series of cataclysmic floods that took place at intervals between roughly 15,000 and 7000 years ago. Is it an accident that this same 8000-year period has been pinpointed by archaeologists as the very one in which our supposedly primitive forefathers made the transition (in different places at somewhat different times) from their age-old hunter-gatherer lifestyle to settled agriculture? Or could there be more to 'the food-producing revolution' than meets the eye? After all, most scientists already recognize a causative connection between the end of the Ice Age and the supposed beginning of farming - indeed an unproven hypothesis that rapid climate changes forced hunter-gatherers to invent agriculture presently serves as pretty much the sum of conventional wisdom on this subject. But there is another possibility. Nobody seems to have noticed that in the general vicinity of each of the places in the world where the food-producing revolution is supposed to have begun between 15,000 and 7000 years ago there is also a large area of land that was submerged by the post-glacial floods between 15,000 and 7000 years ago: We have seen that this is true for India, one of the world's ancient agricultural 'hearths', which lost more than a million square kilometres in the south and the west and, most conspicuously in the north-west, at the end of the Ice Age. (124)

China

 Domestic cattle were herded on the Anatolian Plateau (central Turkey) by about 6,500 BC. As with sheep and goats, cattle domestication seems to have been a widespread phenomenon, probably beginning sometime after 9,000 BC and occurring in many areas from China to western Europe. Across this vast area, ancient farmers seem to have bred cattle for reduced size, increased docility and milk production, and increased tolerance of climatic conditions.

Fossil rice phytoliths have been identified from late glacial to Holocene sediments in the East China Sea that were probably transported by the Yangtze River from its middle or lower reaches. The phytoliths appeared first in the sequence at about 13.9 kya and disappeared during the period of 13-10 kya, which includes the Younger Dryas. (145)

Europe

 Domestic cattle were herded on the Anatolian Plateau (central Turkey) by about 6,500 BC. As with sheep and goats, cattle domestication seems to have been a widespread phenomenon, probably beginning sometime after 9,000 BC and occurring in many areas from China to western Europe. Across this vast area, ancient farmers seem to have bred cattle for reduced size, increased docility and milk production, and increased tolerance of climatic conditions.(27)

The Younger Dryas ended 11,400 years ago, as abruptly as it had begun. Warmth and rain softened the harshness of the surrounding countryside, and over a period of a few hundred years the landscape was revitalized as game and the wild fruits, nuts, and grasses returned. People began to move away from the oases, taking with them the newly acquired skill of farming. They spread into Anatolia, the Levant, and northern Mesopotamia, flourishing in the valleys that were well watered again and along the shores of lakes. (131)

Undeniably, the hunting of big game – megafauna – made a significant contribution to the subsistence of Upper Paleolithic people. In central and eastern Europe, for example, sites dating between 28,000 BP and 10,000 BP reflect the major role of the wooly mammoth in the subsistence base of Upper Paleolithic people. Portrayals of ancient hunters fighting a daily duel to the death with huge, aggressive beasts may offer us a romantic image, but it seems an unlikely strategy for survival. It is far more likely that the people of the Upper Paleolithic subsisted on a broad spectrum of foods, including the meat from animals both large and small, birds, fish, seeds, nuts, berries, and starchy roots. Archaeological evidence is finally beginning to support this sensible reconstruction. (170)

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 Wild bean remains recovered in caves in Tamaulipas date to 7,000 to 5,500 BC, and in Oaxaca from 8,700 6,700 BC, but the earliest known domesticated beans beans did not make their appearance in these areas unitl between 4,000 and 3,000 BC.(27)

The earliest cultivated squash seeds known are from the Guila Naquitz Cave, in Oaxaca, and date to 8,750-7,840, and from caves in Tamaulipas and Levant from the same period. Like all other early farmers, the ancient Mesoamericans were domesticating a variety of other plants, only some of which were eventually developed into staple food sources. Chili peppers, avocados, foxtail grass, "goosefoot," various kinds of cactus, several root crops, and many other plants were combined in a reliable and highly productive agricultural economy.(27)

North America

 From about 11,000 to 8,000 years ago, many of the Desert West peoples apparently organized their economies around the resources of lakes and marshes, while groups in more arid areas probably adopted a more generalized hunting-and-gathering strategy. Remains of pole-and-thatch huts have been found in some areas, but the size, location, and contents of most sites of this period suggest that for most of the year Desert West peoples lived in small bands and followed complex seasonal rounds, exploiting different resources as they became available.(26)

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