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Out of the Shadows: Reestablishing the Eastern Fertile Crescent as a Center of Agricultural Origins: Part 1

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Abstract

Interdisciplinary teams investigating the origins of agriculture in the Eastern Fertile Crescent in the 1950s through 1970s considered the region a primary center of initial domestication and agricultural emergence. Political events then shifted the focus of archaeological investigation on agricultural origins to the Western Fertile Crescent. Decades of subsequent research appeared to indicate that the west was the earliest and most important center of agricultural origins in Southwest Asia, with the Eastern Fertile Crescent portrayed as a backwater that lagged behind transformative innovations from the west. The resumption of investigations in the east in the early 2000s, coupled with new scientific methods for documenting agricultural emergence, has reestablished the region as a heartland of domestication of both crop and livestock species. This broad topic is covered in two papers, beginning here with the history of this work from the 1950s through the early 2000s. The second paper will present a synthesis of recent work in the east, evaluating the continued relevance of early work in light of recent explanatory models for agricultural origins.

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful for input from Kevin Daly, Hojjat Darabi, Ben Fitzhugh, Marcus Hamilton, and especially Roger Matthews and Tobias Richter. The six anonymous reviewers that read the initial version of this long paper offered thoughtful and helpful comments, corrections, and suggestions that, I hope, have made this a much stronger set of papers. And I am forever in debt to Bruce Smith who read and commented on numerous different drafts of this very long manuscript.

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Zeder, M.A. Out of the Shadows: Reestablishing the Eastern Fertile Crescent as a Center of Agricultural Origins: Part 1. J Archaeol Res (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10814-024-09195-5

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