The Elements of Evolution (80-3) Abu Hureyra

 Abu Hureyra

Abu Hureyra in the Euphrates valley (now Syria) was occupied 13 TYA: a village of small huts, cut into the soft sandstone of the terrace there. Huts were supported by wooden posts and roofed with reeds and brushwood. There were underground food storage compartments.

In its 1st incarnation, Abu Hureyra was a village of a few hundred hunter-gathers at most, living off local game, fishing, and gathering wild plants. Gazelle migrated through during the summer. Year-round were sheep, cattle, and onager (wild Asian ass). Smaller food animals included birds, fox, and hare.

The area began to dry out as the climate changed. Wild seeds were gathered in response to a steep decline in the wild plants that had served as staple foods. From these seeds came gardens of cereal grasses, including rye.

The severe climactic conditions brought on by the Younger Dryas forced abandonment of Abu Hureyra 10.1 TYA. Drought had disrupted gazelle migration, devastated local populations of game, and decimated forageable plant food sources. Survival meant a more mobile existence.

Abu Hureyra went unoccupied for 500 years. Then people returned, building mud brick houses, creating a settlement 10 times as large as before: one of the largest at the time in the Middle East.

The 2nd occupation came with people growing crops, but not yet having domesticated animals. That too came in time: herding sheep and goats. In the meantime, gazelle were again hunted, as were other local animals.

Settlement at Abu Hureyra was not to last. The village was again abandoned 7 TYA.