The Appearance of Agriculture in the Cradle of Civilization

Episode 2: Natufian Villagers and Early Settlements

Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization

Dr Amanda H Podany

Film Review

This lecture mainly concerns the first appearance of agriculture in the West, which Podany places around 8,500 BC in Northwest Syria and Southern Turkey. All archeological evidence suggests it developed totally independently in China, Africa and the Americas.

Previously ancient historians credited agriculture for prompting hunter gatherers to settle in villages and towns. This theory has now been discredited with the discovery that hunter gatherers also built permanent settlements in the present of abundant food sources. In fact archeological evidence suggests that hunter gathers lived much more satisfying lives than early farmers. They tended to enjoy 14 hours more leisure time than early farmers, as well as being taller, healthier and living longer than farmers of the same period and region.

Podany cites Natufian culture (15,000 – 11,500 BC in modern day Syria, Israel and Jordan) as a prime example of well-to-do settled hunter gatherers. Archeological evidence indicates a family of four could harvest a metric ton of wild Einkorn wheat (a year’s supply) in three weeks. However this meant they needed to store (and guard) the wheat and the decision to form village settlements possibly reflects this need.

According to Podany, Natufians lived in villages of 100 round houses and hunted birds and gazelles and caught fish. As hunter gatherers, they used fire and exquisite stone and bone tools (for fishing and dressing game) and wore necklaces made from beads. They also domesticated dogs and relied on shamans to heal them when they were sick.

There’s evidence that they domesticated some plants (pulses and grains) and animals (sheep, goats and animals) around 12,500 BC. Since they had such an easy life as hunter gatherers, many historians and archeologists speculate that were forced to grow additional food in years when climate change or overpopulation limited the supply of wild food.

She also gives the example of Gobleki Tepe (9500-8000 BC in southeastern Turkey) as a monumental complex (similar to Stonehenge) built by  hunter gatherers for some religious or other ceremonial purpose. What makes Gobleki Tepe unique is that it was clearly built by large numbers of workmen. All had to be fed. Yet there is no evidence of agricultural settlements from the same period in the immediate vicinity.

Film can be viewed with with a library card on Kanopy.



Typical US Hypocrisy Over Russian Veto

security council

US Veto History Shows Flagrant Disregard for International Law

The western media is roundly condemning Russia for vetoing a Security Council resolution condemning tomorrow’s referendum on Crimean self-determination as illegal under international law. The US, as usual, is being extremely selective in their support for international law. Their own veto history reveals that they have vetoed 41 resolutions demanding that Israel respect international law in occupied Palestine.

According Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, “Russia has used its veto as an accomplice to unlawful military incursion.”

How ironic. Substitute “US” for “Russia,” and you could be describing US behavior as regards the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The 41 US vetoes include numerous resolutions condemning the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine, which are illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Obama administration last blocked Security Council efforts to force Israel to end settlement construction in February 18, 2011. You have to question the President’s sincerity in the current Middle East peace process. For peace negotiations to be fair, surely they must start with an absolute requirement that Israel abide by international law.

Other resolutions condemn Israeli for massive human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, their illegal war of aggression against Lebanon and Gaza, and their illegal expropriation of land in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. The US also vetoed a call for the UN to investigate Israel’s role in the murder of UN Food Program workers and countless Palestinian civilians

Any of the five permanent members of the Security Council (US, UK, Britain, France, Russia, China) have the power to veto a Security Council resolution. There have been 264 vetoes of Security Council resolutions. Approximately half were exercised by the Soviets prior to 1965, in most cases to oppose the admission of new pro-Western states to the UN.

Since 1972, the US has vetoed more Security Council resolutions than any other permanent member. In addition to vetoing resolutions on Palestine, it has vetoed fourteen resolutions condemning South Africa’s apartheid regime, one each condemning illegal US military aggression against Nicaragua and Panama and one condemning the illegal British war in the Falklands.

photo credit: jdlasica via photopin cc

Originally published in  Veterans Today