Fertile Crescent

Fertile Crescent
1. an agricultural region extending from the Levant to Iraq.
2. an area in the Middle and Near East: formerly fertile, now partly desert.

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Region, Middle East.

The term describes a crescent-shaped area of arable land, probably more agriculturally productive in antiquity than it is today. Historically the area stretched from the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea around the Syrian Desert north of the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf; in general, it often includes the Nile River valley as well. Sedentary agricultural settlements in the Fertile Crescent can be dated to с 8000 BC. It was the scene of the struggles and migrations of some of the earliest known peoples, including Sumerians, Assyrians, Akkadians, various Semitic groups, Babylonians, and Phoenicians.

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 the region in the Middle East where the civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin began. The term was popularized by the American Orientalist James Henry Breasted (Breasted, James Henry).

 The Fertile Crescent (see map—>) includes a roughly crescent-shaped area of relatively fertile land which probably had a more moderate, agriculturally productive climate in the past than today, especially in Mesopotamia and the Nile valley. Situated between the Arabian Desert to the south and the mountains of Armenia to the north, it extends from Babylonia and adjacent Susiana (the southwestern province of Persia) up the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to Assyria. From the Zagros Mountains east of Assyria it continues westward over Syria to the Mediterranean and extends southward to southern Palestine. The Nile valley of Egypt is often included as a further extension, especially since the short interruption in Sinai is no greater than similar desert breaks that disturb its continuity in Mesopotamia and Syria. Throughout the region irrigation (irrigation and drainage) is necessary for the best agricultural results and, indeed, is often essential to any farming at all.

      The Fertile Crescent in its wider extension corresponds exactly to the region that plays a dominant role in the Hebrew traditions of Genesis; it also contains the ancient countries (Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Phoenicia) from which the Greeks and Romans derived civilization. This age-old belief that the earliest known culture originated in the Fertile Crescent has been confirmed by the development of radiocarbon dating (carbon-14 dating) since 1948. It is now known that incipient agriculture and village agglomerations there must be dated back to c. 8000 BC, if not earlier, and that the use of irrigation followed rapidly.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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