Agricultural origins on the Anatolian plateau

Douglas Baird, Andrew Fairbairn, Emma Jenkins, Louise Martin, Caroline Middleton, Jessica Pearson, Eleni Asouti, Yvonne Edwards, Ceren Kabukcu, Gökhan Mustafaoglu, Nerissa Russell, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Geraldine Jacobsen, Xiaohong Wu, Ambroise Baker, Sarah Elliott

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    Abstract

    This paper explores the explanations for, and consequences of, the early appearance of food production outside the Fertile Crescent of Southwest Asia, where it originated in the 10th/9th millennia cal BC. We present evidence that cultivation appeared in Central Anatolia through adoption by indigenous foragers in the mid ninth millennium cal BC, but also demonstrate that uptake was not uniform, and that some communities chose to actively disregard cultivation. Adoption of cultivation was accompanied by experimentation with sheep/goat herding in a system of low-level food production that was integrated into foraging practices rather than used to replace them. Furthermore, rather than being a short-lived transitional state, low-level food production formed part of a subsistence strategy that lasted for several centuries, although its adoption had significant long-term social consequences for the adopting community at Boncuklu. Material continuities suggest that Boncuklu’s community was ancestral to that seen at the much larger settlement of Çatalhöyük East from 7100 cal BC, by which time a modest involvement with food production had been transformed into a major commitment to mixed farming, allowing the sustenance of a very large sedentary community. This evidence from Central Anatolia illustrates that polarized positions explaining the early spread of farming, opposing indigenous adoption to farmer colonization, are unsuited to understanding local sequences of subsistence and related social change. We go beyond identifying the mechanisms for the spread of farming by investigating the shorter- and longer-term implications of rejecting or adopting farming practices.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)E3077-E3086
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Volume115
    Issue number14
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018

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  • Cite this

    Baird, D., Fairbairn, A., Jenkins, E., Martin, L., Middleton, C., Pearson, J., Asouti, E., Edwards, Y., Kabukcu, C., Mustafaoglu, G., Russell, N., Bar-Yosef, O., Jacobsen, G., Wu, X., Baker, A., & Elliott, S. (2018). Agricultural origins on the Anatolian plateau. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 115(14), E3077-E3086. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1800163115