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Unformatted text preview: e domesticable wild plant and animal species were native. Only in those areas were incipient early farmers able to outcompete local hunter–gatherers. Once those locally available wild species had been domesticated and had spread outside the homelands, societies of homelands had no further advantage other than that of a head start, and they were eventually overtaken by societies of more fertile or climatically more favoured areas outside the homelands. For instance, the Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia was home to wild wheats, barley, peas, sheep, goats, cows and pigs — a list that includes what are still the most valuable crops and livestock of the modern world. Hence hunter–gatherers of the Fertile Crescent domesticated those species and became the world’s first farmers and herders, beginning around 8500 BC1,9,23. That head start in food production led to them and their close neighbours also developing the world’s first metal tools, writing, empires and professional armies. Those tools of conquest, and Fertile Crescent human genes, gradually spread west into Europe and Nort...
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- Fall '08