Science: The Earliest Farmers

About 4850 B.C., 300-odd human beings, small-boned and slender, settled on a grassy knoll in a valley in northern Iraq. They and their descendants lived there 500 years. It was perhaps the most critical period in human history. The founding of that village (which anthropologists call Jarmo) may mark the point in time when the first wandering huntsmen settled down to till the soil.

Jarmo, discovered in 1948 by an expedition led by Anthropologist Robert J. Braidwood of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, covers the area of a modern city block. Enough of it was excavated this year to give a...

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