The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan as well as the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran. Some authors also include Cyprus.
The region has been called the "cradle of civilization", because it is where settled farming first began to emerge as people started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation in order to grow newly domesticated plants as crops. Early human civilizations such as Sumer flourished as a result. Technological advances in the region include the development of writing, glass, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation.
The term "Fertile Crescent" was popularized by archaeologist James Henry Breasted in Outlines of European History (1914) and Ancient Times, A History of the Early World (1916). Breasted wrote:
This fertile crescent is approximately a semicircle, with the open side toward the south, having the west end at the southeast corner of the Mediterranean, the center directly north of Arabia, and the east end at the north end of the Persian Gulf (see map, p. 100). It lies like an army facing south, with one wing stretching along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean and the other reaching out to the Persian Gulf, while the center has its back against the northern mountains. The end of the western wing is Palestine; Assyria makes up a large part of the center; while the end of the eastern wing is Babylonia.
This great semicircle, for lack of a name, may be called the Fertile Crescent.1 It may also be likened to the shores of a desert-bay, upon which the mountains behind look down—a bay not of water but of sandy waste, some eight hundred kilometres across, forming a northern extension of the Arabian desert and sweeping as far north as the latitude of the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. This desert-bay is a limestone plateau of some height—too high indeed to be watered by the Tigris and Euphrates, which have cut cañons obliquely across it. Nevertheless, after the meager winter rains, wide tracts of the northern desert-bay are clothed with scanty grass, and spring thus turns the region for a short time into grasslands. The history of Western Asia may be described as an age-long struggle between the mountain peoples of the north and the desert wanderers of these grasslands—a struggle which is still going on—for the possession of the Fertile Crescent, the shores of the desert-bay.
1 There is no name, either geographical or political, which includes all of this great semicircle (see map, p. 100). Hence we are obliged to coin a term and call it the Fertile Crescent.
In current usage, the Fertile Crescent includes Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, as well as the surrounding portions of Turkey and Iran. Water sources include the Jordan River. The inner boundary is delimited by the dry climate of the Syrian Desert to the south. Around the outer boundary are the Anatolian highlands to the north, the Sahara Desert to the west and the Iranian Plateau to the east.
As crucial as rivers and marshlands were to the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, they were not the only factor. The area is geographically important as the "bridge" between Africa and Eurasia, which has allowed it to retain a greater amount of biodiversity than either Europe or North Africa, where climate changes during the Ice Age led to repeated extinction events when ecosystems became squeezed against the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Saharan pump theory posits that this Middle Eastern land bridge was extremely important to the modern distribution of Old World flora and fauna, including the spread of humanity.
The area has borne the brunt of the tectonic divergence between the African and Arabian plates and the converging Arabian and Eurasian plates, which has made the region a very diverse zone of high snow-covered mountains.
The Fertile Crescent had many diverse climates, and major climatic changes encouraged the evolution of many "r" type annual plants, which produce more edible seeds than "K" type perennial plants. The region's dramatic variety in elevation gave rise to many species of edible plants for early experiments in cultivation. Most importantly, the Fertile Crescent was home to the eight Neolithic founder crops important in early agriculture (i.e., wild progenitors to emmer wheat, einkorn, barley, flax, chick pea, pea, lentil, bitter vetch), and four of the five most important species of domesticated animals—cows, goats, sheep, and pigs; the fifth species, the horse, lived nearby. The Fertile Crescent flora comprises a high percentage of plants that can self-pollinate, but may also be cross-pollinated. These plants, called "selfers", were one of the geographical advantages of the area because they did not depend on other plants for reproduction.
As well as possessing many sites with the skeletal and cultural remains of both pre-modern and early modern humans (e.g., at Tabun and Es Skhul caves in Israel), later Pleistocene hunter-gatherers, and Epipalaeolithic semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers (the Natufians); the Fertile Crescent is most famous for its sites related to the origins of agriculture. The western zone around the Jordan and upper Euphrates rivers gave rise to the first known Neolithic farming settlements (referred to as Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA)), which date to around 9,000 BCE and includes very ancient sites such as Göbekli Tepe and Jericho (Tell es-Sultan).
This region, alongside Mesopotamia (which lies to the east of the Fertile Crescent, between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates), also saw the emergence of early complex societies during the succeeding Bronze Age. There is also early evidence from the region for writing and the formation of hierarchical state level societies. This has earned the region the nickname "The cradle of civilization".
Both the Tigris and Euphrates start in the Taurus Mountains of what is modern-day Turkey. Farmers in southern Mesopotamia had to protect their fields from flooding each year, except northern Mesopotamia which had just enough rain to make some farming possible. To protect against flooding, they made levees.
Since the Bronze Age, the region's natural fertility has been greatly extended by irrigation works, upon which much of its agricultural production continues to depend. The last two millennia have seen repeated cycles of decline and recovery as past works have fallen into disrepair through the replacement of states, to be replaced under their successors. Another ongoing problem has been salination—gradual concentration of salt and other minerals in soils with a long history of irrigation.
Prehistoric seedless figs were discovered at Gilgal I in the Jordan Valley, suggesting that fig trees were being planted some 11,400 years ago. Cereals were already grown in Syria as long as 9,000 years ago. Small cats (Felis silvestris) also were domesticated in this region.
Linguistically, the Fertile Crescent was a region of great diversity. Historically, Semitic languages generally prevailed in the lowlands, whilst in the mountainous areas to the east and north a number of generally unrelated languages were found including Elamite, Kassite, and Hurro-Urartian. The precise affiliation of these, and their date of arrival, remain topics of scholarly discussion. However, given lack of textual evidence for the earliest era of prehistory, this debate is unlikely to be resolved in the near future.
Links between Hurro-Urartian and Hattic and the indigenous languages of the Caucasus have frequently been suggested, but are not generally accepted.
Textbooks...The true texts brought all of these strands together, the most important being James Henry Breasted, Ancient Times: A History of the Early World (Boston, 1916), but a predecessor, George Stephen Goodspeed, A History of the Ancient World (New York, 1904), is outstanding. Goodspeed, who taught at Chicago with Breasted, antedated him in the conception of a 'crescent' of civilization.
The 8th millennium BC spanned the years 8000 BC to 7001 BC (c. 10 ka to c. 9 ka). It is impossible to precisely date events that happened around the time of this millennium and all dates mentioned here are estimates mostly based on geological and anthropological analysis.9th millennium BC
The 9th millennium BC spanned the years 9000 BC to 8001 BC (c. 11 ka to c. 10 ka). In chronological terms, it is the first full millennium of the current Holocene epoch that is generally reckoned to have begun c. 9700 BC (c. 11.7 ka). It is impossible to precisely date events that happened around the time of this millennium and all dates mentioned here are estimates mostly based on geological and anthropological analysis.
In the Near East, especially in the region known as the Fertile Crescent, the transitory Epipalaeolithic age was gradually superseded by the Neolithic with evidence of agriculture in Iran, the Levant, Mesopotamia and Syria. The key characteristic of the Neolithic is agricultural settlement, albeit with wooden and stone tools and weapons still in use. It is believed that agriculture had begun in China by the end of the millennium. Elsewhere, especially in Europe, the Palaeolithic continued.Arab cuisine
Arab cuisine (Arabic: مطبخ عربي) is the cuisine of the Arabs, defined as the various regional cuisines spanning the Arab world, from the Maghreb to the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian Peninsula. The cuisines are often centuries old and reflect the culture of great trading in spices, herbs, and foods. The three main regions, also known as the Maghreb, the Fertile Crescent, and the Arabian Peninsula have many similarities, but also many unique traditions. These kitchens have been influenced by the climate, cultivating possibilities, as well as trading possibilities. The kitchens of the Maghreb and Levant are relatively young kitchens that were developed over the past centuries. The kitchen from the Khaleej region is a very old kitchen. The kitchens can be divided into urban and rural kitchens.Cradle of civilization
A cradle of civilization is a location where civilization is understood to have emerged. Current thinking is that there was no single "cradle", but several civilizations that developed independently, with the Fertile Crescent (Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia), Ancient India, and Ancient China understood to be the earliest. The extent to which there was significant influence between the early civilizations of the Near East and those of East Asia (Far East) is disputed. Scholars accept that the civilizations of Mesoamerica, mainly in modern Mexico, and Norte Chico, in the north-central coastal region of Peru, emerged independently from those in Eurasia.Scholars have defined civilization using various criteria such as the use of writing, cities, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture. The term cradle of civilization has frequently been applied to a variety of cultures and areas, in particular the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic (Ubaid period) and Fertile Crescent, Ancient India and Ancient China. It has also been applied to ancient Anatolia, the Levant and Iranian plateau, and used to refer to culture predecessors—such as Ancient Greece as the predecessor of Western civilization—even when such sites are not understood as an independent development of civilization, as well as within national rhetoric.Cup and ring mark
Cup and ring marks or cup marks are a form of prehistoric art found mainly in the Atlantic seaboard of Europe (Ireland, Wales, Northern England, Scotland, France (Brittany), Portugal, and Spain (Galicia) – and in Mediterranean Europe – Italy (in Alpine valleys and Sardinia) and Greece (Thessaly and Irakleia (Cyclades)), as well as in Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, and Finland) and in Switzerland (at Caschenna in Grisons). Evidence suggests that immigrants from the Fertile Crescent, rather than native British tribes, built Britain's Stonehenge and similar megaliths which bear cup-marks.Similar forms are also found throughout the world including Australia, Gabon, Greece, Hawaii, India (Daraki-Chattan), Israel, Mexico and Mozambique. The oldest known forms are found from the Fertile Crescent to India.
They consist of a concave depression, no more than a few centimetres across, pecked into a rock surface and often surrounded by concentric circles also etched into the stone. Sometimes a linear channel called a gutter leads out from the middle.
The decoration occurs as a petroglyph on natural boulders and outcrops and also as an element of megalithic art on purposely worked megaliths such as the slab cists of the Food Vessel culture, some stone circles and passage graves such as the clava tombs and on the capstones at Newgrange.Fertile Crescent Plan
The Fertile Crescent Plan was an Iraqi Hashemite proposal for the union of the Kingdom of Iraq with Mandatory Syria (including Mandatory Lebanon), Mandatory Palestine, and Transjordan. Nuri as-Said, prime minister of Iraq, presented the plan to British officials during World War II, when it appeared that France had become too weak to hold on to Syria.
The second People's Party, representing northern Syrian commercial and landholding interests, favored the Fertile Crescent Plan and initiated diplomatic steps to implement it. However, the National Party and factions in the army were determined to block any plans for unity with Iraq as long as it had a military treaty with Great Britain. It was also opposed by Syrians who did not wish to live under a monarchy or in a pro-British state. The closest the plan came to fruition was during the regime (August-December 1949) of Colonel Sami al-Hinnawi, who had installed a People's Party government that entered negotiations to achieve unity. The opportunity was aborted by Colonel Adib Shishakli's coup d'état. Any faint hope remaining for the Fertile Crescent Plan ended with the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy in July 1958.
Aspirations to unite the Fertile Crescent states continue to exist.Habiru
Habiru (sometimes written as Hapiru, and more accurately as ʿApiru, meaning "dusty, dirty") is a term used in 2nd-millennium BCE texts throughout the Fertile Crescent for people variously described as rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, bowmen, servants, slaves, and laborers.Lake Homs
Lake Homs (Arabic: بحيرة حمص) (also called Lake Qattinah, Arabic: بحيرة قطينة) is a lake near Homs, Syria, fed by the Orontes River. The lake is 15 km (9.3 mi) from the city of Homs, and spans over 60 km2 (23 sq mi).The lake is artificial, created by the Lake Homs Dam at its northern end. The dam's original structure was one of the most visible works of ancient engineering in Syria and in the Fertile Crescent. Built by the ancient Romans, the dam had created a reservoir whose water was conducted to nearby fields through a network of canals.Levantine corridor
The Levantine corridor is the relatively narrow strip between the Mediterranean Sea to the northwest and deserts to the southeast which connects Africa to Eurasia. This corridor is a land route of migrations of animals between Eurasia and Africa. In particular, it is believed that early hominins spread from Africa to Eurasia via the Levantine corridor and Horn of Africa. The corridor is named after the Levant.
The Levantine Corridor is the western part of the Fertile Crescent, the eastern part being Mesopotamia.
Botanists recognize this area as a dispersal route of plant species.The distribution of Y-chromosome and mtDNA haplogroups suggests that during the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, the Levantine corridor was more important for bi-directional human migrations between Africa and Eurasia than was the Horn of Africa.The first sedentary villages were established around fresh water springs and lakes in the Levantine corridor by the Natufian culture. The term is used frequently by archaeologists as an area that includes Cyprus, where important developments occurred during the Neolithic revolution.List of barley-based drinks
This is a list of barley-based drinks. Barley (Hordeum vulgare), a member of the grass family was one of the first domesticated grains in the Fertile Crescent and drinks made from it range from thin herbal teas and beers to thicker drinkable puddings and gruels.
Barley has been used as a source of fermentable material for beer for thousands of years and whiskey for hundreds of years. Barley beer was probably one of the first alcoholic drinks developed by Neolithic humans. More recently it has been used as a component of various health foods and drinks.
In 2016, barley was ranked fourth among grains in quantity produced (141 million tonnes) behind maize, rice and wheat.Lugal-Anne-Mundu
Lugal-Anne-Mundu (ca. 25th century BC) was the most important king of the city-state of Adab in Sumer. The Sumerian king list claims he reigned for 90 years, following the defeat of Meskiaj-nanna of Ur. There are few authentic contemporary inscriptions for Lugal-Anne-Mundu's reign; he is known mainly from a much later text, purporting to be copied from one of his inscriptions.
His empire, perhaps the first in recorded history, collapsed upon his death. Following this, the king list indicates that the "kingship" (i.e. the Nippur-based hegemony) fell to a dynasty from Mari, beginning with Anbu; however, it has been suggested that more likely, only the last of these Mari kings, Sharrumiter, held the hegemony after Lugal-Anne-Mundu. With the break-up of the Adab kingdom, other prominent cities appear to have concurrently regained their independence, including Lagash (Lugalanda), Akshak (which not long afterward won the kingship from Mari, perhaps under Puzur-Nirah), and Umma (whose king Lugal-zage-si eventually went on to seize his own empire throughout the Fertile Crescent).Neolithic founder crops
The Neolithic founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Holocene (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region of southwest Asia, and which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and Europe. They consist of flax, three cereals and four pulses, and are the first known domesticated plants in the world. Although domesticated rye (Secale cereale) occurs in the final Epi-Palaeolithic strata at Tell Abu Hureyra (the earliest instance of domesticated plant species), it was insignificant in the Neolithic Period of southwest Asia and only became common with the spread of farming into northern Europe several millennia later.Cereals
Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum, descended from the wild T. dicoccoides)
Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum, descended from the wild T. boeoticum)
Barley (Hordeum vulgare/sativum, descended from the wild H. spontaneum)Pulses
Lentil (Lens culinaris)
Pea (Pisum sativum)
Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)
Bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia)Other
Flax (Linum usitatissimum)Pre-Pottery Neolithic
The Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) represents the early Neolithic in the Levantine and upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent, dating to c. 12,000 – c. 8,500 years ago, that is 10,000-6,500 BCE. It succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipalaeolithic Near East (also called Mesolithic), as the domestication of plants and animals was in its formative stages, having possibly been induced by the Younger Dryas. The Pre-Pottery Neolithic culture came to an end around the time of the 8.2 kiloyear event, a cool spell centred on 6200 BCE that lasted several hundred years. It is succeeded by the Pottery Neolithic.Pre-Pottery Neolithic A
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) denotes the first stage of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, in early Levantine and Anatolian Neolithic culture, dating to c. 12,000 – c. 10,800 years ago, that is, 10,000-8,800 BCE. Archaeological remains are located in the Levantine and Upper Mesopotamian region of the Fertile Crescent.
The time period is characterized by tiny circular mud brick dwellings, the cultivation of crops, the hunting of wild game, and unique burial customs in which bodies were buried below the floors of dwellings.The Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and the following Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) were originally defined by Kathleen Kenyon in the type site of Jericho (Palestine). During this time, pottery was not yet in use. They precede the ceramic Neolithic (Yarmukian). PPNA succeeds the Natufian culture of the Epipaleolithic (Mesolithic).Saluki
The Saluki is a standardised breed of dog, developed from sighthounds – dogs that hunt primarily by sight rather than scent – used by nomadic tribes to run down game animals. The dog was originally bred in the Fertile Crescent. The modern breed is typically deep-chested and long-legged, and similar dogs appear in medieval and ancient art. The breed is most closely related to the Afghan hound, a basal breed that predates the emergence of modern breeds in the 19th Century, and the Saluki has been purebred both in the Middle East, including by royalty, since at least that era, and in the West (especially in Britain and Germany) since the 1840s (with breed standards established in the West and the Middle East around the 1920s–1930s), though as a free-breeding landrace, similar dogs are common as feral animals in the Middle East. A related standardised breed is the north African Sloughi, whose name is a variant of "Saluki".Social class in the Ottoman Empire
There is considerable controversy regarding social status in the Ottoman Empire. Social scientists have developed class models on the socio-economic stratification of Ottoman society which feature more or less congruent theories. We see the Ottoman Empire being described as a bureaucratic state, holding different regions within a single administrative and fiscal system.The Ottoman Empire lasted for over six hundred years (1299–1923) and encompassed what is modern-day Turkey, the Balkans and the Fertile Crescent. Thus the Ottoman Empire would be home to an extremely diverse population ranging from the Muslim majority to the minority population, specifically Christians and Jews who were referred to as the People of the Book.Syrian Social Nationalist Party
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) (Arabic: الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي, transliterated: Al-Ḥizb Al-Sūrī Al-Qawmī Al-'Ijtimā'ī, often referred to in French as Parti populaire syrien or Parti social nationaliste syrien), is a nationalist political party operating in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine. It advocates the establishment of a Syrian nation state spanning the Fertile Crescent, including present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, Sinai, southeastern Turkey (Alexandrette and Cilicia), based on geographical boundaries and the common history people within the boundaries share.With over 100,000 members as of 2016, it is the second largest legal political group in Syria after the ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, In Lebanon, it has been a major secular and highly organised elite party in the political history of the country for over 80 years. Until recent times it was a key group in the March 8 Alliance.
Founded in Beirut in 1932 as an anticolonial and national liberation organization hostile to French colonialism, the party played a significant role in Lebanese politics and was involved in attempted coups d'etat in 1949 and 1961 following which it was thoroughly repressed. It was active in resistance against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the subsequent occupation of southern Lebanon until 2000 while continuously supporting the Syrian presence in Lebanon out of both belief in Syrian irredentism but also due to the decades-long repression it endured at the hands of the Baath Party in Syria. In Syria, the SSNP had become a major Right-wing political force in the early 1950s, but was thoroughly repressed in 1955-56. It remained organized, and by the late 1990s had joined the Left and allied itself with the PLO and the Lebanese Communist Party, despite the ideological rivalry that persists among them. In 2005, it was legalized in Syria and joined the Ba'ath Party-led National Progressive Front. From 2012 to 6 May 2014, the party was part of the Popular Front for Change and Liberation.During the course of the Syrian Civil War the party has seen its relevance increasing in Syria, where almost 12,000 fighters of the Party's armed branch, the Eagles of the Whirlwind, fight alongside the Syrian Armed Forces against the Syrian opposition and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.Syrian nationalism
Syrian nationalism, also known as "Pan-Syrian nationalism", refers to the nationalism of the region of Syria, or the Fertile Crescent as a cultural or political entity known as "Greater Syria". It should not be confused with the Arab nationalism that is the official state doctrine of the Syrian Arab Republic's ruling Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, nor should it be assumed that Syrian nationalism necessarily propagates the interests of modern-day Syria or its government. Rather, it predates the existence of the modern Syrian state (independent from French colonial rule in 1946), and refers to the loosely defined Levantine region of Syria, known in Arabic as Ash-Shām (Arabic: ٱلـشَّـام).Western Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwestern Asia or Southwest Asia is the westernmost subregion of Asia. The concept is in limited use, as it significantly overlaps with the Middle East (or the Near East), the main difference usually being the exclusion of the majority of Egypt (which would be counted as part of North Africa) and the inclusion of the Caucasus. The term is sometimes used for the purposes of grouping countries in statistics. The total population of Western Asia is an estimated 300 million as of 2015. Although the term "Western Asia" is mostly used as a convenient division of contemporary sovereign states into a manageable number of world regions for statistical purposes, it is sometimes used instead of the more geopolitical term "Middle East".
In an unrelated context, the term is also used in ancient history and archaeology to divide the Fertile Crescent into the "Asiatic" or "Western Asian" cultures as opposed to ancient Egypt. As a geographic concept, Western Asia includes the Levant, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Iran, the Armenian Highlands, the South Caucasus, the Arabian peninsula as well as the Sinai Peninsula, making Egypt a transcontinental country.
The term is used pragmatically and has no "correct" or generally agreed-upon definition. The National Geographic Style Manual as well as Maddison's The World Economy: Historical Statistics (2003) by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) only includes Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Palestinian territories (called West Bank and Gaza in the latter), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE, and Yemen as West Asian countries. In contrast to this definition, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in its 2015 yearbook also includes Armenia and Azerbaijan, and excludes Israel (as Other) and Turkey (as Europe).
Unlike the UNIDO, the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) excludes Iran from Western Asia and includes Turkey, Georgia, and Cyprus in the region. In the United Nation's geopolitical Eastern European Group, Armenia and Georgia are included in Eastern Europe, whereas Cyprus and East Thracian Turkey are in Southern Europe. These three nations are listed in the European category of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
National members of West Asian sports governing bodies are limited to Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The Olympic Council of Asia's multi-sport event West Asian Games are contested by athletes representing these thirteen countries. Among the region's sports organisations are the West Asia Basketball Association, West Asian Billiards and Snooker Federation, West Asian Football Federation, and the West Asian Tennis Federation.