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Agricultural Diversification, Perennials and Complex Societies in Mesopotamia and the Yellow River

Author(s): Chris Stevens ; Dorian Fuller

Year: 2017

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Mesopotamia and the Yellow River of China had long trajectories from early farming through to primary urbanisation, but to what extent do the archaeobotanical records indicate parallel developments in terms of agriculture? In both areas agriculture diversifies during the later Neolithic, with an increasing range of annual field crops as well as evidence for the cultivation of some perennials (tree fruits or vines). However, diversity was much higher in western Asia, from both a highly diverse Neolithic package of staples (multiple cereals and pulses) and co-staples to a range of livestock, craft-related/cash crops (e.g. flax, carthamus), and fruits (olive, grape, fig). In China a cereal-focused Neolithic was slowly augmented by beans, fibre, drugs, and a few fruits, but evidence for regional specialization and trade in crop products is lacking. Thus, while secondary crops may indeed have been important in the agricultural rise of complex societies, a more crucial common denominator would appear to have been simple agricultural expansion to provide more land for more staple crops to support larger overall populations and larger population centers.

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Agricultural Diversification, Perennials and Complex Societies in Mesopotamia and the Yellow River. Chris Stevens, Dorian Fuller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430582)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15809

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America