of the Fertile by ert634


									                                         The Geography
                                         of the Fertile
              silt                       J@ld                Geography, especially the location of rivers, determined where

              irrigation                 early civilizations grew.

              specialization of          ;: ii..'i     Frr

                                                 n a hot afternoon in the Middle East about 7,000 years ago,, a 12-
                                         year-old girl walks through her father's fields. All around her, locusts and
                                         other insects keep up a low, drowsy humming. The nearby river has
                                         shrunk in its banks, exposing mud flats. There, water birds lower their
                                         beaks into puddles in search of food. The family's sheep and goats nibble
                                         on wild grass. It is midsummer, and there has been no rain for months.
                                             Still, the fields are thick with barley and vegetables. River warer,
             Tigris River
                                         delivered to the fields through a series of ditches, keeps the plants healthy
              Euphrates River
                                         and green. In a few weeks, the crops        will   be harvested. There   will   be grain
              Fertile Crescent           for the winter, with some to spare. The girl's mother will keep enough for
                                         the family to use, while the remainder will be sold.
                                              In spring, the rain will come, and new crops will be planted. By next
     The map on the following page       summer, the girlwill again walk through fields ripe for harvest.
     shows the area of the Fertile
     Crescent. Map Skill: Judging
     from the map, how do you
     think the Fertile Crescent got rb

     Geography changes. In ancient
     times, the Tigris and Euphrates
     rivers did not follow the same
     courses they do today.

rc        Cnaorer s
Life Along the
trorusl   \Xlhy did an agricwltural sociery
emerge    in the Fertile Crescent?
The girl lived in the Fertile Crescent, an area
where the Tigris (TY grihs) and Euphrates
(yoo FRAY teez) rivers flow into the Persian
Gulf. Fresh water and fish first drew people
to the rivers, which also supplied reeds and
mud for building homes and boats and for
making baskets and pottery. The rivers also
provided some of the richest soil in the
ancient world.
      The Tigris and Euphrates rivers began
as streams in the mountains of Armenia. Every fall rains fed the streams.
Through winter and early spring, the rivers on their way to the Persian
Gulf swelled from melting snow and rain. As they flowed, their waters             The Flooding Cycle
picked up silt, fine particles of soil, from the lands they passed through. In    The rivers of the Fertile Crescent
the late spring, both rivers poured over their banks onto the plain of the        changed with the seasons.
Fertile Crescent.         the water went down at the beginning of summer'         O    In winter and early spnng,
                                                                                       the rivers began to swell
it deposited the silt, leaving a thick layer of rich soil on the flood plain.
                                                                                       with rain and melting snow
(The diagrams below show what the Tigris or Euphrates might have                       in the mountains.
looked like at various times of the year.) The greatest amount of soil was
                                                                                  O    In late spring, the waters
deposited closest to the tiver's normal channel. Gradually the banks of the            overflowed their banks onto
Tigris and Euphrates grew higher than the plains on either side.                       the plains of the Fertile
      During summer, the Fertile Crescent is hot and almost rainless.
lrrigation developed there when farmers reahzed that they could break             O    nr the summer went on     and
                                                                                       temperatures rose, water
through riverbanks and direct water to their fields, through a system of               evaporated, and the rivers
ditches. Hot weather, rich soil, and irrigation produced plentiful harvests.           began to shrink.

                                                                                 The Dawn of Civilization              EI-
                                                                                         o         tn
                                                                                        lri6,'l     t\

                                                             Ihe   Gate' of.Thbrct!{.ir.:.al      .L:;.,    Farmers could now produce a surplus
                                                                                           of food, far more than they needed for
                                                                                      themselves. A surplus meant that not everyone
                                                                                 had to farm. Instead, some workers spent their time
                                                              r, building irrigation ditches. Others cared for animals. Under this
                                                                  system, called specialization of labor, people became skilled at
                   QATNU'5 Field                                 specific jobs that helped the entire community.
                                       4 ;:;   l'd'   :
                                                                    Gradually complex societies, called civilizations, developed in
                                                             the Fertile Crescent. People working together needed a government
     This map made on a clay tablet                   and a system of recordkeeping. Different social classes, groups of people
     (right) in 1300 a.c. shows farm-                 who shared similar economic and social conditions, emerged. Artists
     Iand and irrigation ditches outside
                                                      began producing beautiful items, and writers recorded the stories of their
     the Mesopotamian city of Nippur.
     The English translation of the map               people in literature. Organized religion developed. The most important
     is on the left. Map Skill: Why                   civilizations to evolve in the Fertile Crescent were those in an area called
     might the king have owned the
                                                      Mesopotamia, from a Greek word meaning "between two rivers."
     land between the canals?

         O    Key Vocabulary: Use the following terms                                         @    Citizenship: Geography Compare the
              to describe life along a river in the                                                map of the Fertile Crescent on page 67
               Fertile Crescent: silt, irrigation, surplus,                                       with a map of modern political states in
                                                                                                  the Atlas at the back of this book. What
         O    Focus: Why did an agricultural society
                                                                                                  countries or parts of countries occupy
              emerge in the Fertile Crescent?
                                                                                                  the Fertile Crescent today? List them.
         @    CriticalThinking: Generalize What are
                                                                                              Q   Ceography/ScienceActivity: Using
              the advantages and disadvantages of
                                                                                                  material from reference books at your
              settling near a major river?
                                                                                                  library, create a model of a flood plain
                                                                                                  of a river. Write a paragraph about how
                                                                                                  rivers change with the seasons.

re        chapter    3

To top