What were the advantages enjoyed by the Fertile Crescent that allowed it to be the earliest site of development for civilization in Guns, Germs, and Steel?

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In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond explains why environmental differences rather than inherent genetic differences are responsible for the more rapid advance of some civilizations instead of others. In chapter 8, "Apples or Indians," Diamond delineates a number of advantages that allowed...

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In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond explains why environmental differences rather than inherent genetic differences are responsible for the more rapid advance of some civilizations instead of others. In chapter 8, "Apples or Indians," Diamond delineates a number of advantages that allowed the Fertile Crescent to become an early site of development.

The first advantage that Diamond mentions is the area's Mediterranean climate, which was comprised of mild wet winters and long hot dry summers. These conditions were ideal for the growth of numerous species of plants. Another advantage is that among these plants were numerous species of wild edible pulses and cereals such as wheat, barley, lentils, peas, chickpeas, and flax. The abundant diversity of plants suitable for domestication allowed hunter-gatherers to settle and cultivate crops.

The climate and diverse topography of the area also gave rise to a population of large mammals that could be domesticated. These included cows, goats, sheep, and pigs.

Due to the abundance of domesticated edible plants and large mammals, people in the Fertile Crescent were able to settle in population centers with stratified societies, allowing the development of technologies that enabled more efficient food production, storage, travel, warfare, and so on.

A further advantage of the location of the Fertile Crescent was the east-west axis of the Eurasian continent, which offered easier opportunities of travel and exchange of cultivatable crops, domestic animals, and developing technologies.

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The Fertile Crescent had the following advantages that enabled it to be a site of development for civilization:

  1. It was one of the few regions in which food production developed independently. 
  2. Cereals began to grow there naturally at the end of the Pleistocene era. These crops produced abundant harvests that could be collected in a short time. The implements and technology to collect and process these crops also developed in this area because the cereal crops developed naturally.
  3. The crops that developed in the Fertile Crescent, such as wheat, barley, and peas, came from ancestors that grew easily and that gave large yields. Since these crops were productive when growing wildly, they had be changed very little when they were domesticated. 
  4. The Fertile Crescent lies in the Mediterranean, a region with mild, wet winters and long, dry, hot summers. The cereals that grow there can remain dried up during the summer and then resume growing in the winter. 
  5. Fertile Crescent crops include several hermaphroditic crops that pollinate themselves.
  6. The region has great climactic variation from season to season, giving rise to a large number of annual crops.
  7. The area also has a great diversity of wild plants and animals.  
  8. The region has a great variety of topographies and a range of elevations, creating staggered harvests.
  9. The area has many domesticated big animals. 
  10. There was less competition from hunter-gatherers in the area. 
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Advantages of the Fertile Cresent, according to Diamond, include:

  1. Mediterranean climate: mild, wet wingers, and long, hot, dry summers.
  2. abundance of wild plants: hunter gatherers were able to notice the value of the land based on its sheer number of plants growing naturally, without cultivation; this also proved the natural fertility of the soil.
  3. hermaphroditic "selfers": many plants growing in the FC self-pollinate or occasionally cross pollinate, naturally; this meant a high percentage of the natural plantlife had a convenient reproductive biology for humans; the occasional cross pollination allowed for more varieties to spring up.
  4. big mammals: the abundant natural vegetation attracted large mammals.
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