Kurdistan: Recovering a Garden of Paradise, Photo Gallery
Iraqi Kurdistan, a region in northern Mesopotamia, is home to mountains, steppes, and pastures that were part of the Fertile Crescent: the birthplace of agriculture—and, indeed, civilization. There, ancient farmers nurtured a wealth of crops that would become staples throughout the world. Today, after years of wars and sanctions, Kurdistan is reengaging its land. As it negotiates the challenges of a new era, native plants and crops remain a defining feature of the landscape and people—how long can the agricultural heritage last?
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Hollyhocks grow wild throughout the region. The colorful stalks cascade down urban hills, colonize abandoned areas, and grow in fields of wild grain in the remote steppe. Hollyhocks have a long history in the region; pollen remains dating 60,000 years ago were found in Neanderthal graves in present-day Iraq. It's believed that the plants were used in healing and funeral rituals.