Origins of agriculture
Simmons, Alan H. Department of Anthropology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada.
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One of humankind's most significant accomplishments was the transition from hunting and gathering to food production and the establishment of permanent settlements, commonly known as the Neolithic Revolution. Occurring independently in several parts of the Old and New Worlds, it is oldest and best documented in the Near East (Fig. 1), beginning about 10,000 years ago and ultimately spreading to Europe and elsewhere. The Near East region (also known as the Middle East in contemporary times) is vast and includes the modern countries of Israel, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. Although different classifications are applied to the Near Eastern Neolithic, one that has prevailed is a division into three Pre-Pottery Neolithic phases (PPNA, PPNB, and PPNC) as well as a later Pottery Neolithic. In addition, an earlier period, the Natufian (and variants), set the foundations for subsequent developments (see table).
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