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Is there a relationship between these folks and the start of civilization? Mehrdad Izady suggests that they started civilization via establishing the agricultural production. How can this be possible, the Kurdish area is within a severely mountainous geography? And why they couldn't have any important impact in history like Greeks or Persians?

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    Connecting present day nations with 10 000 years old ancestors is highly questionable and unscientific, and greatly motivated by politics. – Greg Jun 18 '17 at 3:35
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It is certainly true that many of the foundations for later civilisations, like the development of agriculture, the development of writing, and even an invention of the wheel, can be traced to The Fertile Crescent.

It is likely that many of the ancestors of modern Kurds came from the the Fertile Crescent. It is quite possible that "The land of Karda", mentioned on a Sumerian clay-tablet from the 3rd millennium BC is the earliest reference to a "Land of the Kurds". If so, the Kurds might have originated from an area to the south of Lake Van. However, we must remember that the development of agriculture was perhaps some 5000 years before the development of writing. Any suggested link between a possible Sumerian mention of a "Land of the Kurds" and the people that invented agriculture 5000 years before is tenuous at best.

So we can reasonably say that the ancestors of modern Kurds came from an area within the Fertile Crescent, although - based on recent DNA analysis - we can probably say the same for many of the ancestors of peoples from Europe, North Africa and a large part of Asia. We can also say that many of the foundations of civilisation were developed in the Fertile Crescent. But it would be going too far to claim that any one of the groups of people in that region "started civilisation".

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    It is likely that many of the ancestors of people from Spain and Morocco to India came from the fertile crescent. And place names may not be much use either: modern Hungarians bear relatively little relationship to the Huns. – Henry Jun 19 '17 at 8:13
  • @Henry Actually, I'd go further, and say that - based on recent DNA analysis - many of the ancestors of people from Europe, North Africa and a large part of Asia came from the Fertile Crescent. However, given the scale of the migrations involved, I wouldn't be prepared to associate the development of agriculture with any modern group. – sempaiscuba Jun 19 '17 at 10:18
  • @Henry As for the origins of the Kurds, there are no shortage of current ideas, and little consensus. As far as I'm aware, the earliest suggested linguistic link to "Kurds" as a distinct people is the Sumerian tablet I mentioned, but even that is 5000 years after the earliest farmers. Some of those people may have been descendants of those early farmers, but at present we just don't have enough information to say with any certainty. – sempaiscuba Jun 19 '17 at 10:27
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That seems highly unlikely.

The invention of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent was roughly 10,000 years ago, principally in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley system. The people living there when the historical record opened spoke a language unrelated to any modern language.

Kurdish is an Indo-European language, of the Western Iranian branch. About 5,500 years ago all of these languages would have been a single language spoken by a single ancestral people (who we call Proto-Indo-Europeans, or PIE). Our best guess is that they were living north of the Black and Caspian seas, on the Steppe. It is quite likely these are the people that domesticated the Horse.

The Iranian branch split off when a group of PIEs moved into Persia, likely from west of the Caspian. This happened about 4000 years ago.

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So no, there aren't really any reasonable (standard) interpretations of history that would credit Kurds with Agriculture in general. Its possible their ancestors could be credited with domesticating the Horse, but no more so than the ancestors of the English and Indians can (same ancestors).

  • How do we know that unrelated language is unrelated to any of the current languages? Thank you T.E.D. . – matlabcrz Jun 17 '17 at 20:15
  • @matlabcrz - They were literate, so linguists have lots of examples of it to work from. There's no real mystery about it. It it quite unrelated to Indo-European. Its speakers eventually all got assimilated into local Semitic languages, particularly Akkadian. – T.E.D. Jun 17 '17 at 20:24
  • @matlabcrz - Hmmm, yes I see I didn't supply a lot of linked material for that section. Corrected. – T.E.D. Jun 17 '17 at 22:11
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    The ur-farmers predate Sumerian literacy by several thousand years, so I don't think you can make the case that they spoke Sumerian. The argument that they probably did not speak Kurdish still holds. – chepner Jun 17 '17 at 23:00
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    @chepner - I'll give you about 80% of that. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, its reasonable to assume the Sumerians were the original residents in that river valley to implement farming (we don't have any better candidates). However, plant domestication was developed slowly in the region over thousands of years, and that includes areas outside the river valley, whose residents probably weren't Sumerian (but certainly weren't Indo-European either. Likely some were Afroasiatics). I did sort of hand-wave that away. – T.E.D. Jun 18 '17 at 0:51

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