Chapter 5 - Transition to Agriculture

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During which time period did the Early Epipaleolithic in the Levant occur?

23,000 to 17,000 cal BC

What type of occupation did Ohalo II likely have during the Early Epipaleolithic period?

Year-round occupation

Which of the following was NOT found at the site of Ohalo II?

Domesticated crops

What is a key contribution of aggregation sites like Kharaneh IV according to the text?

They provide evidence of social complexity before village settlements.

What made Ohalo II unique in terms of preservation?

It was covered by rising water levels.

What characterized the Middle Epipaleolithic period in terms of climate compared to the Early Epipaleolithic?

It was warmer and wetter.

What characterized the forest environment during the Early Natufian period?

Abundant cereal grasses and acorns

What type of resources allowed Early Natufians to establish villages at sites like 'Ain Mallaha in northern Israel?

Cereal grasses ripening in summer and acorns collected in fall

Where was the world's oldest bread discovered?

Shubayqa 1 in Jordan

What caused the decline of favorable habitats like Mediterranean forest around 11,000 cal BC?

Return of colder, drier conditions

What type of lifestyle did Late Epipaleolithic people return to after the climatic change around 11,000 cal BC?

More mobile life

What were some of the grave goods found in the burials at Uyun al-Hammam in Jordan?

Partial animal skeletons like fox, aurochs, and tortoise

What genetic changes occurred in barley and wheat due to human manipulation?

From natural dispersal to seeds staying on the plant

What is the significance of a tough rachis in barley and wheat?

It prevents seed dispersal until human harvest

What is the Feasting Model as related to food production?

A strategy involving food sharing and increased food abundance for feasting rituals

What is the Epipaleolithic period often associated with?

Hunter-gatherer-forager groups living in the Middle East

Where is the Fertile Crescent located geographically?

In the region from Jordan to northern Syria

What makes Göbekli Tepe stand out as an archaeological site?

Incorporation of large T-shaped pillars

Which theory suggests that humans actively change features of the landscape and resources to build a successful habitat over time?

Niche Construction Theory

Which theory attributes the delayed development of agriculture to the harsh environmental conditions of the Pleistocene?

Hostile Pleistocene theory

What idea is related to the origin of food production and emphasizes investing time in seasonal use of small seeds for survival?

Small seed investment

Which theory suggests that cultural feasting rituals played a role in the manipulation and domestication of food resources?

The feasting model

What postprocessual explanation suggests that rituals and new technologies for food storage and processing led to the domestication of resources?

Control of nature through its manipulation

Which theory incorporates evolutionary ideas from biology and applies them specifically to human behavior?

Niche Construction Theory

Why were Egyptian women depicted with slender necks and youthful faces?

To emphasize their beauty and youthfulness

How were Egyptian males and females differentiated in their depiction according to the text?

By their attire and posture

What enabled elites to be more prominently represented in ancient art compared to commoners?

Their ability to afford personal portraits and ritual iconography

What is one reason suggested in the text for commoners' tribute payments to elites in the Mississippian?

Military coercion

What is highlighted as a big question of human history in the text?

How do elites become established?

How were societal messages reinforced through sculpted figures according to the text?

Through posture, dress, and accessories

Study Notes

Domestication of Plants

  • Wild barley and wheat have a brittle rachis, which allows for natural dispersal of seeds when disturbed by the wind.
  • Domesticated forms of barley and wheat have a tough rachis, preventing natural dispersal, and instead, requiring human harvest.
  • This genetic change from brittle to tough rachis is advantageous for humans but not the plants.

Epipaleolithic Period

  • The Epipaleolithic period refers to the interval between 23,000 to 9600 cal BC.
  • During this period, hunter-gatherer-forager groups lived in the Middle East.
  • The period is characterized by a cool, dry climate, which coincided with the Last Glacial Maximum.

Fertile Crescent

  • The Fertile Crescent is an arc of Mediterranean forest running from Jordan/Israel/Lebanon to Turkey and northern Syria, and then south and east through the Zagros Mountains.
  • This region is significant for the origins of food production.

Göbekli Tepe

  • Göbekli Tepe is an unusual Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and B site in Turkey.
  • The site features structures with large T-shaped pillars, with early structures being circular and later ones being rectangular.

Early Epipaleolithic

  • The Early Epipaleolithic period dates from 23,000 to 17,000 cal BC.
  • During this period, hunter-gatherer-foragers were highly mobile, staying at small sites for only days or weeks at a time.
  • The site of Ohalo II was occupied year-round and included brush hut dwellings, fish bones, and wild barley and other cereal grasses.

Middle Epipaleolithic

  • The Middle Epipaleolithic period dates from 17,000 to 13,000 cal BC.
  • This period was somewhat warmer and wetter than the preceding period.
  • Many hunter-gatherer-foragers remained mobile, but Kharaneh IV continued as a year-round aggregate occupation.

Late Epipaleolithic

  • The Late Epipaleolithic period dates from 13,000 to 9600 cal BC.
  • This period is also known as the Natufian period.
  • The Early Natufian period (13,000–11,000 cal BC) coincided with a warmer, wetter climatic optimum.

Natufian Period

  • During the Natufian period, the desert was overtaken by lusher environments like Mediterranean forest and steppe.
  • The forest was characterized by abundant cereal grasses, acorns, gazelles, and long-term human settlements.
  • Hunter-gatherer-foragers in the steppe of Jordan, Syria, and southern Israel were more mobile.
  • Early Natufians established villages because cereal grasses ripen in the summer, acorns are collected in the fall, and both are storable resources.

Theories on Food Production

  • The Feasting Model suggests that the cultural importance of feasting rituals led to manipulation and ultimately domestication of food resources.
  • The Small Seed Investment theory notes that investing time in the seasonal use of small seeds is a viable survival strategy.
  • The Hostile Pleistocene theory suggests that humans might have developed domesticated food resources and agriculture sooner, but did not until the hostile environment of the Pleistocene subsided.
  • The Niche Construction Theory suggests that humans actively change or manipulate features of the landscape around them and resources in those landscapes in ways that build a niche or habitat in which they can be successful over long periods of time.

Social Stratification

  • The depiction of elites in ancient art is more common than that of commoners because they had the resources necessary to create or commission personal portraits and ritual iconography.
  • The establishment of elites is a significant question in human history.
  • The threat of military coercion is one explanation for allegiance at great personal expense.

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