chapter  2
20 Pages

Environment and subsistence

Without question, the environment of the Syrian Euphrates region played an important part in moulding the character of human settlement during the third millennium bc. Although we cannot deny the impact that human agency had in shaping the distinctive and remarkable ways in which events unfolded during this significant period of antiquity, the environment, to no small degree, set the stage for these events and developments. It encouraged or limited some human actions and choices, while stimulating responses to other challenges. During the third millennium bc, in our view, the environment provided much of the incentive for human groups both to move beyond simple small-scale pastoral-agrarian livelihoods and to adopt increasingly complex economic enterprises and exchanges as well as distinctive social-cultural traditions and ideologies. The environment contributed greatly not only to the growth and success of urban life in the Euphrates region, but also to the unique character that urban settlements acquired over the course of their long development.