The explosion of a comet would have favored the beginnings of agriculture in Syria – Futura

Based on a controversial study published 16 years ago, a team of scientists believes the demographic changes in the Fertile Crescent in the 10th millennium B.C. to have been associated with the disintegration of a comet in the Earth’s atmosphere. Climate change has led to the development of agriculture in this region around the Mediterranean.

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The history of agriculture rhymes with the starting point of civilization as we know it today. Numerous examples make it possible to establish a connection between the cradle of prehistoric societies and the development of agriculture with the settlement of Neolithic populations. About 10,000 years before our era, an agricultural revolution took place in the Levant and in the region known as the Fertile Crescent: in Syria and on the banks of the Euphrates, the Jordan, and the Orontes. A study published September 28 on the Science Open website supports a theory to explain the sedentarism of nomads and the resort to agriculture from the 10th millennium BCE onwards to people traveling the Fertile Crescent.

A controversial hypothesis

In 2007, a group of researchers published an article detailing a hypothesis that was… controversial to say the least! A connection is made between a sudden ice age during the Younger Dryas (10,900 – 9,700 BC), the extinction of megafauna, and the disappearance of the Paleoindian Clovis culture in North America. What these different events have in common: a possible comet impact on Earth within this time frame. After 2007, many scientists disputed the study, arguing that the Clovis culture did not actually disappear, but rather dissipated in the north of the continent, or that the megafauna extinction occurred over several millennia.

But the study of the site of Abu Hureyra in Syria appears to support the thesis that some historians have been advocating for thirteen years about the occurrence of a catastrophe of cosmic order. Archaeologists studied the geological composition of the soil in an area that was the site of a prehistoric village that is now covered by Lake Assad. Evidence collected during excavations in the 1970s allowed archaeologists to detect an almost abrupt change in diet at the Abu Hureyra site. Drastic changes related to clues unearthed in Syrian soil. Geologists noted the presence of a blackish layer containing globules of platinum, carbon and other metals. The September 28 study explains that this could be due to a violent phenomenon, such as the flyby of a comet that was about to burst and would have devastated part of the sector. The problem is that no crater was found. The authors of the study are inclined to the hypothesis of an explosion in flight, which would nevertheless have shaped life on the Earth’s surface.

An event that marks the beginnings of agriculture?

The comet explosion is the denominator of significant climate change in the Fertile Crescent region. In a forested and damp area the weather would have been colder and drier. Hunter-gatherers who ate wild berries, vegetables and seeds would have had to change their diet. Within a millennium, the peoples of the Levant began cultivating barley, wheat, and legumes, while livestock farming became more widespread along the banks of the Euphrates.

Many questions remain, and while this new study is supported, it risks polarizing the scientific community. For the authors, more comprehensive research needs to be conducted on Neolithic archaeological sites in the Middle East. Further research would confirm or refute the theory of celestial influence on the beginnings of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent.