At the time when mammoths still roamed the heavily forested countryside, Europe was sparsely populated by nomadic tribes who lived mainly on hunting and gathering of available food in the form of fruits, berries and grains. They began to graze their newly domesticated animals and discovered the possibility of planting the seeds of the precious grain-bearing plants around 9000 years ago, probably at first in the Kurdistan area of Turkey. They lived on the higher shores of the Mediterranean, more suited to their needs, permitting a more abundant and more efficient production of food, which allowed man to prosper and to grow in number.
soon found necessary to descend to the more fertile plains, where larger fields were
available for sowing the precious grain, which was ever more vital to feed the larger
populations that were gathering in the permanent settlements, that were soon to grow into
towns and later into cities.
It was soon found necessary to descend to the more fertile plains, where larger fields were available for sowing the precious grain, which was ever more vital to feed the larger populations that were gathering in the permanent settlements, that were soon to grow into towns and later into cities.
Those who chose to remain on the higher ground had to continually battle against nature, to eke out a living, by laboriously constructing over the centuries, those terraced plots on the steep hill-sides, which are a picturesque feature of the Mediterranean landscape. There was also a strategic plan in remaining on the more inaccessible slopes: to better escape the ravaging marauders, which were an all too often occurrence along the Mediterranean coastlines. This is also the reason for the lovely hill-top towns we see today, girthed by their massive walls and many defensive towers.
A hill-top fortress town in Italy
Northern Africa and the oriental shores of the Mediterranean, on the other hand, were more barren, while the much richer plains lay in the Tigris and Euphrates River basin, Mesopotamia (between the rivers) in Persia and also in the Nile delta of Egypt. These are the areas that had a greater development after the advent of agriculture and represent the real birth-places of modern Man.
Many peoples flourished around the Mediterranean in the niches that they found with an abundant water supply, fertile grounds and preferably with a natural hill-top conformation to give them a certain degree of security from external attacks. Where the conditions were more favourable, the settlements developed into civilisations, which grew and extended their influence and power much further afield, according to the ambitions of the current leaders, so as to even create empires. Many such civilisations developed along the shores of the Mediterranean, as we shall see, to last a few life-spans, or as in the case of the Egyptians, up to 3000 years.
Nevertheless the influence of these civilisations is ever present, as we today, are what we were. Because of the various intermingling of the races, through migrations, dominations, rape and seduction, we all have to a varying degree, chromosomes from each of these successive peoples and we have been influenced by their thoughts, by their art and by their religions. To know and to understand them, is to better know and to better understand ourselves.
The Mediterranean Sea