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First farmers

The River Euphrates in Syria. Its lush, fertile banks are intensely farmed today just as they were thousands of years ago. Beyond...Read More >>The River Euphrates in Syria. Its lush, fertile banks are intensely farmed today just as they were thousands of years ago. Beyond this thin strip of farmland lies barren desert.As the Ice Ages came to an end, around 11,700 years ago, the climate worldwide started to become warmer. Some people discovered that they could plant the seeds of certain wild plants in fields to produce more plants. Some grasses produced grain that could be ground into flour for making bread. These people, the first farmers, could now settle in villages close to their fields. One of the first regions of the world where this happened was in the Fertile Crescent, the arc of land that runs between the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea with Mesopotamia, the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

 


Farming communities

Early farmers in Mesopotamia use stone knives to harvest the wheat (1). The cut stalks are beaten with sticks to separate out the...Read More >>Early farmers in Mesopotamia use stone knives to harvest the wheat (1). The cut stalks are beaten with sticks to separate out the seeds (2). These are ground into flour for making bread (3). Once people had discovered how to farm, they no longer had to move from place to place as they did when hunting wild animals: they could settle in permanent groups and form communities. The first farming communities began in about 9500 BC. These early communities were on the banks of rivers in the hot lands of the Middle East and North Africa. Some farmed the fertile soil on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). Others settled in the valley of the River Nile in Egypt.
 

Sheep were among the earliest animals domesticated for farming purposes, some time between 11,000 and 9000 BC.

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