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?
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.