The Contribution of the Taurus-Zagros Arc to Humanity

Civilization: The Age of Masked Gods and Disguised Kings – Volume I

It is my contention that the Taurus-Zagros Arc—the so called Fertile Crescent—was the main gathering and dispersion point for humans as they exited Africa through the East African Rift. In the first place, the Arc forms the end of the natural path of the Rift. The Great Sahara and the Arabian Desert block off the eastern and western entrances into Asia and Europe, leaving the Suez and the eastern Mediterranean shores as the natural paths for human expansion. This ideal path is the arc formed by the Taurus-Zagros Mountain range, off the eastern Mediterranean shores. Secondly, the suitable weather conditions, the huge numbers of shelters provided by the caves in this area, the abundance of streams and rivers, and the fertility that led to the creation of the image of “Paradise” in the memory of humanity—all made the Fertile Crescent the ideal gathering point, a “place of incubation” for civilizational development.

With their newly acquired ability of symbolic language, the extensive area of the Fertile Crescent provided its inhabitants a unique opportunity for societal development with its safe shelter and a ready food source.35 For the first time, humans made the transition from a nomadic life style to a culture of a settled life. The four seasons could be now be experienced together in all of their beauty. The new circumstances brought about a new life style—that is, a new cultural era, the Mesolithic. New terms were coined to name the new society, along with other concepts, new objects, new plants and animals, and all of them became part of the newly developing languages of the widespread communities of the Arc. Hence, new communities with new identities were formed in the Fertile Crescent.

In comparison to the Palaeolithic era that lasted a few million years, the Mesolithic period in the Arc was short-lived. Despite its short span, the Mesolithic period had a profound effect on this region, as attested to by the Hakkari caves and hewn stones. But the real progress was made in the Neolithic—an era we can call the Era of the Farming, Field and Village Revolution. It is a cultural era of which the importance has not yet been fully understood and which has not yet received the attention it deserves.36 The Neolithic inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent brought numerous inventions and revolutionary developments in areas such as agriculture, arts and crafts, transport, housing, administration and religion; inventions and developments that truly shaped the modern era.

It is here in the Arc that the shepherd culture was likely introduced by the Semites during a period of favorable weather conditions at the end of the fourth ice age around 10,000 years ago. The impact of this new life style is clear from the cultural importance that the accumulation of sheep, camels and goats still have in the Semitic culture today—in its essence the Semitic culture still is a shepherd culture. Furthermore, from the Sumerian and Egyptian tablets of the time, it is clear that they too valued the importance of the shepherd culture. It seems that the Semitic culture has left a permanent mark on a vast area from the Sahara and Eastern Arabia to the lands suitable for agriculture in the North.

However, the Arians of the Arc were the pioneers of crop farming. (The Kurdish word ari means “related to earth, place, field.”) Archaeological evidence (charred seeds and chaff from barley, wheat and pulses) indicates that the earliest transition to agriculture took place in the Fertile Crescent during the Neolithic, more or less 1,000 years before pastoralism was introduced. The favorable weather conditions of the time, the soil structure, the streams coming from the glaciated mountain peaks, all contributed to the Arc being extremely suitable for growing olives, nuts, grapes, cereals, dates, pulses, and so forth. Wild sheep, goats, cattle, pigs, etc. roamed around in flocks. The forests on the mountain slopes provided the building material needed for the settled life style of crop farming and the copious streams and rivers offered suitable areas for settlement. In fact, under conditions like these, the development that took place here was almost inevitable.

By about 6,000 years ago, agriculture had spread from the Fertile Crescent into Europe, northern Africa and central and southern Asia. As agriculture spread, so did village settlement and farming techniques such as irrigation and terracing. And, as the culture spread, so did the Aryan language and cultural group.

Thus, contrary to the common belief, the birth place of the Aryan language group is not Europe, India or the regions in-between (the areas of the northern Black Sea, the Russian steps or the Iranian plateaus) but the Fertile Crescent. It is of utmost importance that we understand this, because the history of the expansion of this big language and cultural group is vital for understanding the societal development of the urban civilizational phase and of modernity.

Another contribution that is vital for modernity and has its origins in this period in the Fertile Crescent is monotheistic religion.

35 There is a hypothesis that groups that acquired a symbolic, referential communication system, which united them through shared concepts, could not remain in constrictive clan groups for long and, furthermore, that they possessed the dynamics to transform themselves into a more advanced form of societal organization.

36 V. Gordon Childe hinted at the importance of this cultural era when he remarked that the Neolithic era in this region is no less important than the four hundred year old culture of Western Europe in his book called The Dawn of European Civilization (1925).

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