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Thread: What is the earliest documented Neolithic site in the Near East?

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    What is the earliest documented Neolithic site in the Near East?

    The Natufians are often said to be the first incipient proto-agricultural culture in the Near East (and world), however most of the literature I've read doesn't quite go so far as to say they were the first true farmers. So who was? Or maybe more appropriately, what are the consensus earliest sites associated with true cereal cultivation? One thing that stands out to me is that some of the earliest major cereal crops (emmer and einkorn) seem to be native to Anatolia and the northern Syrian/Mesopotamian fringe, I think only barley being native to the south Levant.
    Last edited by TuaMan; 11-30-2020 at 03:29 AM.

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    Technically-speaking, the most ancient site where cereal cultivation is documented is Ohalo II on the southern bank of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in present-day Israel. The site itself is dated ~23 ka calBP so the "Neolithic" label is inappropriate, we're dealing with a Kebaran site which predates the Natufian culture by some 10,000 years.

    That being said the truth is that we do not know for sure, and while we do need Kebaran samples, the genetic evidence supports your contention here. The difference between the Levant's Natufian and PPNB inhabitants seems to be an infusion of Neolithic Anatolian (Barcin-like) and Iranian admixture. This process only intensified during the Pottery Neolithic with an even more prominent arrival of Iranian ancestry (apparently with Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic Mesopotamians). So this strongly suggests that the first populations that were consistent in their agrarian lifestyle came from the northern parts of the Fertile Crescent (Anatolia and Iran), while the Natufians and their Kebaran predecessors were mere pioneers and should not be viewed as the main force behind the spread and adoption of agriculture.
    Last edited by Agamemnon; 11-30-2020 at 07:22 PM.
    מכורותיך ומולדותיך מארץ הכנעני אביך האמורי ואמך חתית
    יחזקאל פרק טז ג-


    ᾽Άλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω, σὺ δ᾽ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ βάλλεο σῇσιν:
    κρύβδην, μηδ᾽ ἀναφανδά, φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν
    νῆα κατισχέμεναι: ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι πιστὰ γυναιξίν.


    -Αγαμέμνων; H Οδύσσεια, Ραψωδία λ

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    Quote Originally Posted by Agamemnon View Post
    Technically-speaking, the most ancient site where cereal cultivation is documented is Ohalo II on the southern bank of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in present-day Israel. The site itself is dated ~23 ka calBP so the "Neolithic" label is inappropriate, we're dealing with a Kebaran site which predates the Natufian culture by some 10,000 years.

    That being said the truth is that we do not know for sure, and while we do need Kebaran samples, the genetic evidence supports your contention here. The difference between the Levant's Natufian and PPNB inhabitants seems to be an infusion of Neolithic Anatolian (Barcin-like) and Iranian admixture. This process only intensified during the Pottery Neolithic with an even more prominent arrival of Iranian ancestry (apparently with Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic Mesopotamians). So this strongly suggests that the first populations that were consistent in their agrarian lifestyle came from the northern parts of the Fertile Crescent (Anatolia and Iran), while the Natufians and their Kebaran predecessors were mere pioneers and should not be viewed as the main force behind the spread and adoption of agriculture.
    Do you have any opinion on the origin of the Kebaran? I don't believe it's tied to anything coming out of Egypt is it? I think the first clearly Egyptian intrusion into the Levant is the Mushabian, with the Natufian evolving from that.

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