AVDAT, Israel — For thousands of years, different groups of people have lived in the Negev desert, building stone walls and cities that survive to this day. But how did they make their living?
The current thinking is that these desert denizens didn’t practice agriculture before approximately the first century, surviving instead by raising animals, said Hendrik Bruins, a landscape archaeologist at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
But new research suggests people in this area, the Negev highlands, practiced agriculture as long ago as 5000 B.C., Bruins told LiveScience. If true, the finding could change historians’ views of the area’s inhabitants, who lived in the region in biblical times and even before, he added. Read more.
The ancient builders of Stonehenge may have had a surprisingly meaty diet and mobile way of life. Although farming first reached the British Isles around 6,000 years ago, cultivation had given way to animal raising and herding by the time Stonehenge and other massive stone monuments began to dot the landscape, a new study finds.
Agriculture’s British debut occurred during a mild, wet period that enabled the introduction of Mediterranean crops such as emmer wheat, barley and grapes, say archaeobotanists Chris Stevens of Wessex Archaeology in Salisbury, England, and Dorian Fuller of University College London. Farming existed at first alongside foraging for wild fruits and nuts and limited cattle raising, but the rapid onset of cool, dry conditions in Britain about 5,300 years ago spurred a move to raising cattle, sheep and pigs, Stevens and Fuller propose in the September Antiquity. Read more.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s archaeological agency says it has unearthed evidence of East Asia’s oldest known farming site.
Archaeologist Cho Mi-soon said Wednesday that the agency has found the remains of a farming field from the Neolithic period on South Korea’s east coast. The site may be up to 5,600 years old. That’s more than 2,000 years older than what is now the second-oldest known site, which also is in South Korea.
During the Neolithic period humans began living in permanent settlements and farming after a previous nomadic existence of hunting and gathering.
Cho points to traces of pottery and house remains found at the site as proof of its age. She says material was tested and determined to be from the Neolithic period. (source)
The oldest agricultural settlement ever found on a Mediterranean island has been discovered in Cyprus by a team of French archaeologists involving CNRS, the National Museum of Natural History, INRAP, EHESS and the University of Toulouse. Previously it was believed that, due to the island’s geographic isolation, the first Neolithic farming societies did not reach Cyprus until a thousand years after the birth of agriculture in the Middle East (ca. 9500 to 9400 BCE).
However, the discovery of Klimonas, a village that dates from nearly 9000 years before Christ, proves that early cultivators migrated to Cyprus from the Middle Eastern continent shortly after the emergence of agriculture there, bringing with them wheat as well as dogs and cats.
The findings, which also reveal the early development of maritime navigational skills by these populations, have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). Read more.
ScienceDaily — University of Cincinnati research is revealing early farming in a former wetlands region that was largely cut off from Western researchers until recently. The UC collaboration with the Southern Albania Neolithic Archaeological Project (SANAP) will be presented April 20 at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA).
Susan Allen, a professor in the UC Department of Anthropology who co-directs SANAP, says she and co-director Ilirjan Gjipali of the Albanian Institute of Archaeology created the project in order to address a gap not only in Albanian archaeology, but in the archaeology in Eastern Europe as a whole, by focusing attention on the initial transition to farming in the region.
“For Albania, there has been a significant gap in documenting the Early Neolithic (EN), the earliest phase of farming in the region,” explains Allen. Read more.
An international team of archaeologists and paleoecologists analyzing records of pollen, charcoal and other plant remains like phytoliths spanning more than 2,000 years has created the first detailed picture of land use in the Amazonian savannas in French Guiana.
The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that indigenous people, living in the savannas around the Amazonian forest, farmed without using fire and practiced ‘raised-field’ farming, which involved constructing small agricultural mounds with wooden tools.
These raised fields provided better drainage, soil aeration and moisture retention: ideal for an environment that experiences both drought and flooding. The fields also benefited from increased fertility from the muck continually scraped from the flooded basin and deposited on the mounds. The raised-field farmers limited fires, and this helped them conserve soil nutrients and organic matter and preserve soil structure. Read more.
On June 22, the local landmark will celebrate 119 years as nationally protected grounds. In fact, Casa Grande Ruins was the first prehistoric and cultural site to be established by the United States government.
Successful farming led to advanced architecture, as the Hohokam created building material by combining river water with indigenous desert material known as “caliche.” The Hohokam started a practice of building earthen platform mounds every two to four kilometers along the river. The monstrous Casa Grande was built around 1300 A.D. But a lengthy drought, followed by a series of intense floods, destroyed the Hohokam farming network. The culture essentially disappeared around 1450 A.D., leaving behind little more than caliche ruins. Read more.