Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
The beginning of farming was the single most important cultural and economic transformation in the entire human career. The region where this transformation took place first was Western Asia. During the 1970s I excavated the early village site of Abu Hureyra in the Euphrates Valley in Syria. This was a contribution to a salvage project there in advance of completion of a new dam across the river. That excavation demonstrated that the site had been initially settled by hunter-gatherers who adopted farming c. 13,000 years ago towards the end of the last Ice Age. They were the first known farmers anywhere in the world. The new way of life enabled their village to grow until it became one of the most populous anywhere.
Research on the material recovered from the site has continued. Our latest results demonstrate that the transition to farming at Abu Hureyra was triggered by a major change in climate. This in turn was caused by airbursts across the northern hemisphere occasioned by the collision of the earth with a comet or asteroid. This event had major consequences for humanity, especially in the northern hemisphere.