Biblical Paleoarcheology

The First Farmers

Article #16

The first farming has long been considered the key to understanding the history of human origins. Interestingly, this holds true for the Biblical model as well as the secular model. Archeologists have diligently sought out the location of the first farms as an indication of the transition for hunter-gatherers who supposedly domesticated grain for a more productive lifestyle. The location was identified in 2006 by the Max Plank Institute, and is now known to be Karaca Dag, or Mount Karaca, in Turkey.

The Institute methodically compared many strains of cereals alive today and found one that proves to be related to 68 other strains growing today. This einkorn wheat still grows naturally on the slopes of Mount Karaca in southeastern Turkey, north of Syria and Iraq. Einkorn is German for “one grain” because each spikelet only contains one grain. Two types of einkorn wheat existed in the beginning, so it is difficult to prove what happened. One has been named “wild” and the other “domesticated”, because the latter is more efficient as was used by farmers. Wild wheat was often collected in more remote locations, but there is no solid proof that people ”domesticated” einkorn wheat, rather than bringing it with them on the Ark. The only thing that is clear is the location of early villages that farmed einkorn wheat.

Cayonu and Cafer Hoyuk are the oldest villages that farmed einkorn wheat, and they are located about 250 miles east southeast of where the Ark would have landed. Noah would have obviously followed the Euphrates River and the sloping land down from the mountains to the more hospitable Fertile Crescent, in search of the most fertile land for farming. Robert Braidwood found that the earliest levels of Cayonu showed evidence of farming emmer and einkorn wheat, and that no earlier non-farming levels existed. Cayonu is the most obvious candidate for Noah’s first settlement. Other villages, such as Cafer Hoyuk, had levels of building before farming. A Biblical view considers that as the children of Noah spread out from Cayonu and Mount Karac they built villages first and then added farming as they became more settled.

Farming did not begin in Africa, in Europe, in India, in China, or in the Americas. It began in the Near East and quickly spread to other areas. It began on the most fertile land that was closest to the landing place of the Ark. It’s as if the children of Noah explored everything from the Caucasus Mountains to Anatolia, from the Black Sea to the Iranian Plateau, and decided on best farm land. The “hilly flanks”, as they were called, were the ideal temperature and received abundant rain as clouds hit the mountains and unleashed their precious precipitation. The location of the first farms was not a random accident but the wise choice of experienced agricultural experts.

 

Civilization began downhill from Ararat

Genesis 9:20 says that “Noah began to be an husbandman” (KJV) or “a man of the soil” (ESV), ”and he planted a vineyard”. We should not limit his farming to the vineyard, just because it was the theme of the following story. Farming was a part of his life. He had evidently raised all the food that was used to feed all the animals on the Ark. The indication in the Bible is that animals were all grain-fed before the Flood. Noah would have stored sufficient grain, fruit, and vegetables for the early years after the Flood. As the supply was depleted, farming again became a major occupation.

Now that I have carefully considered the Biblical story, I find the animal-to-human scenario much more difficult to figure out. If humans were in Africa first, why couldn’t they plant gardens there? The Nile Rive was easier to farm than even the Near East. Why didn’t farming begin there? Neanderthals and others went from the Near East and spread out all over Europe and Asia. Why would they have come back to their starting place to take up farming? Many archeologists state that they can’t answer these questions. They don’t know why it all began in the Near East. The Bible believer has a much easier time understanding it. Noah was the first farmer.

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