In DepthArchaeology

Were nomads the world's first traders?

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Science  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6370, pp. 1518-1519
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6370.1518

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Who helped build the first trading networks in the earliest civilization? Scholars long thought that wandering nomads moving their flocks in the Near East helped spur urban growth by bringing stone, wood, and metals to the plains of Mesopotamia. That assumption was built, in part, on studies of modern-day nomads in Anatolia, Iraq, and Iran. Thanks to recent isotopic analyses from ancient sites, that view is under siege. Archaeologists like Emily Hammer from the University of Pennsylvania suggest that pastoralists did not stray far from home until long after cities like Ur and Mari flourished around 2000 B.C.E. That assertion, however, has met with skepticism from many researchers, who insist that nomads played a key role in the birth and evolution of the first cities.