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Domestication and Early Agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins,Diffusion, and Impact
1.   Melinda A. Zeder
<http://www.pnas.org/search?author1=Melinda+A.++Zeder&sortspec=date&submit=Submit> *

+ <http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2008/08/11/0801317105.abstract>
Author Affiliations

1.    Archaeobiology Program, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013

1.     Edited by Jeremy A. Sabloff, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA, and approved May 27, 2008 (received for review March 20, 2008)


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.




*Author contributions: M.A.Z. designed research, performed research, synthesized research in referenced publications, and wrote the paper.

*The authors declare no conflict of interest.

*This article is a PNAS Direct Submission.

*(c) 2008 by The National Academy of Science