The Agricultural Revolution – including the domestication of plants and animals in the Near East – that occurred 10,500 years ago ended millions of years of human existence in small, mobile, egalitarian communities of hunters-gatherers. This Neolithic transformation led to the formation of sedentary communities that produced crops such as wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chickpeas and flax and domesticated range of livestock, including goats, sheep, cattle and pigs. All of these plants and animals still play a major role in the contemporary global economy and nutrition. This agricultural revolution also stimulated the later development of the first urban centres. This volume examines the origins and development of plant domestication in the Ancient Near East, along with various aspects of the new Man-Nature relationship that characterizes food-producing societies. It demonstrates how the rapid, geographically localized, knowledge-based domestication of plants was a human initiative that eventually gave rise to Western civilizations and the modern human condition.
1. What Is the Agricultural Revolution?
2. From Hunters-Gatherers to Farmers in the Near East: Archaeological Background
3. Models that Describe and Explain the Agricultural Revolution, Including Plant Domestication
4. The Plant Formations of the Fertile Crescent and the Wild Progenitors of the Domesticated Founder Crops in the Near East
5. The Difference Between Wild and Domesticated Plants
6. Traditional versus Modern Agriculture
7. The Differences between Plant Domestication and Crop Evolution under Traditional and Modern Farming Systems
8. The Differences between Cereal and Legume Crops in the Near East
9. The Choice of Plant Species as Domestication Candidates
10. Where and When Did Near Eastern Plant Domestication Occur?
11. Domestication of Fruit Trees in the Near East
12. Plant Evolution under Domestication
13. A Global View of Plant Domestication in Other World Regions: Asia, Africa and America
14. Animal domestication in the Near East
15. Plant Domestication and Early Near Eastern Agriculture: Summary and Conclusions
Shahal Abbo is an agronomist and plant geneticist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Through comparative study of grain legumes and cereals, both domesticated and wild, across Mediterranean agro-eco-systems, he has developed several new practical and conceptual tools pertaining to plant domestication and crop evolution.
Avi Gopher is an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University, Israel. He has conducted research on time-space systematics – seriation analyses reconstructing both chronology and pace of the diffusion of Neolithic cultural elements in the interaction sphere of the early Neolithic in the Near East. Gopher is a member of a research group on plant domestication in the Near East and focuses on the archaeological aspects.
Gila Kahila Bar-Gal is a molecular geneticist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. She studies host-pathogen interaction and human activities that affect animals aimed at conserving future biodiversity.