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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 19;105(33):11597-604. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801317105. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact.

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  • 1Archaeobiology Program, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013, USA. zederm@si.edu

Abstract

The past decade has witnessed a quantum leap in our understanding of the origins, diffusion, and impact of early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin. In large measure these advances are attributable to new methods for documenting domestication in plants and animals. The initial steps toward plant and animal domestication in the Eastern Mediterranean can now be pushed back to the 12th millennium cal B.P. Evidence for herd management and crop cultivation appears at least 1,000 years earlier than the morphological changes traditionally used to document domestication. Different species seem to have been domesticated in different parts of the Fertile Crescent, with genetic analyses detecting multiple domestic lineages for each species. Recent evidence suggests that the expansion of domesticates and agricultural economies across the Mediterranean was accomplished by several waves of seafaring colonists who established coastal farming enclaves around the Mediterranean Basin. This process also involved the adoption of domesticates and domestic technologies by indigenous populations and the local domestication of some endemic species. Human environmental impacts are seen in the complete replacement of endemic island faunas by imported mainland fauna and in today's anthropogenic, but threatened, Mediterranean landscapes where sustainable agricultural practices have helped maintain high biodiversity since the Neolithic.

PMID:
18697943
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2575338
Free PMC Article
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