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Domestication of Plants in the Old World - The Origin and Spread of Domesticated Plants in South-west Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin

Current state of the art
The aim of this book is to review available informa-
tion on the origin and spread of domesticated plants
in south-west Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean
Basin. Two sources of evidence exist:  rstly, infor-
mation obtained by the analysis of plant remains
retrieved from archaeological excavations, where
early archaeological contexts—namely Epipalaeo-
lithic/Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age cul-
tures—are the main source; and secondly, data
provided by living plants, particularly by the wild
progenitors of domesticated plants. This chapter
presents the conclusions of the book as determined
from the combined information provided by these
two sources (relevant data and references will be
presented in the following chapters).
Beginnings of domestication
The rst de nite signs of domesticated plants in the
Old World appear in a string of Early Pre-Pottery
Neolithic B (PPNB) farming villages that developed
in south-west Asia (Map 1) by ca. 10,500–10,100
calibrated years before present (cal BP). Spikelet
forks of emmer and einkorn wheat with telltale,
rough disarticulation scars (pp. XXX—XXX) pro-
vide the most convincing evidence that these cere-
als were already domesticated by this time, and in
this area. The contemporary appearance of rela-
tively plump kernels further supports this notion,
but cannot be regarded as a fully reliable indication
of the early stage of domestication. These remains
and further evidence of pre-domestication cultiva-
tion suggest that the actual beginning of wheat cul-
tivation in this area should have been even earlier.
No convincing pre-PPNB domesticated plants have
yet been found.
There is a scholarly debate as to whether agricul-
ture originated in several places across a wide area,
including the Levant and northern Fertile Crescent
(e.g. Weiss et al . 2006 ; Willcox et al. 2008 ), or whether
it evolved in only one part of the Fertile Crescent,
such as south-east Turkey (e.g. Lev-Yadun et al .
2000 ). Although current archaeobotanical data sup-
port the  rst view, this critical question requires
more archaeobotanical and radiocarbon dating evi-
dence to support any de nitive  nding.
Neolithic south-west Asian crop
The crops of early Neolithic agriculture in south-
west Asia are fairly well recognized. The most
numerous vegetable remains in early farming vil-
lages come from three cereals: emmer wheat
( Triticum turgidum subsp. dicoccum ), einkorn wheat
( T. monococcum subsp. monococcum ), and barley
( Hordeum vulgare ). Diagnostic morphological traits
(non-brittle ears, broad kernels) traceable in the
archaeological  nds indicate that by 10,500–10,100
cal BP, these domesticated annual grasses were
intentionally sown and harvested in a string of Pre-
Pottery Neolithic B sites in south-west Asia. Emmer
wheat and barley seem to have been the more com-
mon crops. Einkorn wheat is somewhat less
Several grain legumes appear as constant com-
panions of the cereals ( see Map 2—Plate 6). The most
frequent pulses in the early Neolithic south-west
Asian contexts are lentil ( Lens culinaris ) and pea
( Pisum sativum ). Two more local legume crops are
bitter vetch ( Vicia ervilia ) and chickpea ( Cicer arieti-
num ). In contrast to the cereals, archaeological
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remains of pulses usually lack morphological fea-
tures by which initial stages of domestication can be
recognized. Clear indications of lentil domestication
appear at about 10,100–9,700 cal BP; and of pea,
chickpea, and bitter vetch, at about 9,900–9,500
cal BP. Probably all four legumes were cultivated
somewhat earlier, either together with wheats and
barley or soon after the domestication of those cere-
als. Finally,  ax ( Linum usitatissimum ) belongs to the
south-west Asian group of founder crops. It is
impossible to decide whether the material obtained
from Early Neolithic layers represents collected wild
ax or the remains of domesticated forms. Yet, as in
the case of the legumes both direct and circumstan-
tial evidence indicates that by 9,900–9,500 cal BP,
ax was already domesticated in south-west Asia.
Evidence for early domestication of additional
plants in south-west Asia is much less convincing.
Grass pea ( Lathyrus sativus ) might have been such a
crop, yet the bulk of its early remains comes from
eighth and seventh millennia BP sites in Greece and
Bulgaria. Signs that rye ( Secale cereale ) was a south-
west Asian Neolithic crop are much rarer. The ori-
gin and early spread of the faba bean ( Vicia faba ) is
even less clear.
The plant remains from south-west Asian Pre-
Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) sites reveal another fea-
ture: as a rule, not a single crop but rather a
combination of cereals, pulses, and  ax appears in
these early farming villages. Moreover, the assem-
blage seems to be similar throughout the Fertile
Crescent ( see Map 2—Plate 6). In other words, a
common package of grain crops characterizes the
development of agriculture in this ‘core area’.
At almost the same time, signs of herding appear,
implying that sheep and goats had also been
brought under human control. Shortly after, cattle
and pig domestication took place (Zeder In Press
2011). Thus, an effective south-west Asian Neolithic
food-production ‘package’ was formed, comprising
Map 1 Archaeological sites in which the earliest south-west Asian domesticated grain crops were reliably identi ed.
Kissonerga-Mylouthkia +
Cafer Höyük
Asikli Höyük
Tel Abu
‘Ain Ghazal
Tel Aswad
Ali Kosh
10,500-10,000 BP
10,000-9,500 BP
9,500-9,000 BP
einkorn wheat
emmer wheat
bitter vetch
100 200 miles
200 400km
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vegetative crops as well as domestic animals.
Indeed, the remains uncovered in south-west Asian
PPNB sites indicate a major shift in food practices.
While in Epi-Palaeolithic contexts, gathering and
hunting of a wide spectrum of wild species is appar-
ent, the PPNB farmers already appear to focus on
domesticates as their principal source of food. A
large proportion of the remains retrieved from these
early farming sites belong to the crops mentioned
above and domestic animals. There is also a sharp
quantitative and qualitative drop in the wild- species
intake. An important con rmation of this ‘package’
concept occurred recently with the discovery of just
such an ensemble of plants and animals in Early
PPNB Cyprus, although some of them were not yet
strictly domesticated.
Wild progenitors
The wild ancestors of most of the food plants of
south-west Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean
Basin are already well identi ed. The distribution
areas and the main ecological preferences of most of
them are also well known. Comparison of this evi-
dence with the archaeological  ndings reveals that
with practically all early crops, the  rst signs of
domestication appear in the same general areas
where the wild ancestral stocks abound today.
The geographic distribution of the wild progeni-
tors of Neolithic grain crops is signi cant. Apart
from  ax and barley, the wild ancestors of the
founder crops have a rather limited distribution.
Wild emmer wheat and wild chickpea are endemic
to the Fertile Crescent. Assuming that their distri-
bution did not change drastically during the last ten
millennia, the domestication of these crops could
only have taken place in this restricted area. Because
domesticated emmer wheat appears to be the most
important Neolithic crop throughout south-west
Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin, the
con nement of its wild progenitor to the Fertile
Crescent delimits the place of origin of this
Map 2 The spread of the south-west Asian Neolithic crop assemblage in Europe, west Asia, and north Africa. For details on the numbered sites,
see pp. XXX–XXX. These are the earliest sites in which domesticated grain crops were found, in each country.
125 250 375 500 miles
250 500 km
Scale 1:16,000,000
30 26
78 75
48 49
2,500-2,000 BP
3,000-2,500 BP
3,500-3,000 BP
4,000-3,500 BP
4,500-4,000 BP
5,000-4,500 BP
5,500-5,000 BP
6,000-5,500 BP
6,500-6,000 BP
7,000-6,500 BP
7,500-7,000 BP
8,000-7,500 BP
8,500-8,000 BP
9,000-8,500 BP
9,500-9,000 BP
10,000-9,500 BP
10,500-10,000 BP
einkorn wheat
emmer wheat
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domesticated cereal. It also marks the rather
restricted geographic area where Old World
Neolithic agriculture could have originated. Wild
forms of einkorn wheat, lentil, pea, and bitter vetch
have a somewhat wider distribution, but all, includ-
ing barley, are centered in the Fertile Crescent; that
is, the region in which the earliest farming villages
have been discovered.
The spread of south-west Asian crops
A most remarkable feature of south-west Asian
Neolithic agriculture is its rapid expansion soon
after establishment in the nuclear area ( see Map
2—Plate 6). The quality and quantity of available
archaeobotanical evidence varies considerably from
region to region. Comprehensive information is
available for most parts of Europe, but there is much
sparser and frequently incomplete documentation
from Caucasia, Eastern Europe, and central Asia. In
Africa, critical data on plant remains are available
only for Egypt (but a few current projects might add
vital data for north Africa). In spite of the uneven
documentation, the following main features of the
diffusion of agriculture seem apparent.
The spread of agriculture from its south-west
Asian core to Europe and central Asia involves the
species contained in the Neolithic crop assemblage.
Map 2 (Plate 6) summarizes the information about
the six most important south-west Asian crops:
emmer wheat (including its free-threshing deriva-
tives), einkorn wheat, barley, lentil, pea, and  ax.
From the data presented in this map and in Chapter
10 , it is evident that crops domesticated in the
south-west Asian core area were the initiators of
food production in Europe, central Asia, and the
Mediterranean Basin (including the Nile Valley).
The earliest farming cultures in these vast regions
always contain wheat and barley, with one, two, or
more of the other south-west Asian founder crops
frequently present as well.
Establishment of the south-west Asian crop
assemblage in the Fertile Crescent and its spread
both west (to Europe) and east (to central Asia and
to the Indian subcontinent) was rapid ( see Map
2—Plate 6). From the  rst farming communities in
the ‘Levantine Corridor’ at ca. 10,500–10,200 cal BP,
it was found to cover the whole Fertile Crescent by
9,500–9,000 cal BP. By ca. 9,000–8,500 calBP, agricul-
ture had already appeared in Crete and Greece. By
the end of the ninth millennium BP, these crops
were grown in Obre in Bosnia-Hercegovina and in
Jeitun in Turkmenia. Soon after, agriculture appears
as far west as Balma Margineda in Andorra, Spain,
and Sacarovca in Moldavia—and as far south as
Grotta dell’Uzzo in Sicily. By the second half of the
eighth millennium BP, the Linearbandkeramik
farming culture was already  rmly established in
loess soil regions throughout central Europe,
extending to Poland in the east, to northern France,
and Germany in the west. At the same time, early
Neolithic farming villages appeared in south Spain,
the Nile Valley, and in Chokh in Caucasia.
Substantial information on the age and spread of
early farming cultures is available for Europe,
where radiocarbon dating of sites exhibiting evi-
dence of early farming enabled the reconstruction
of the diffusion of agriculture. The evidence from
Caucasia, central Asia, and eastern Europe is much
more fragmentary. Yet the  nds retrieved from sites
including Jeitun (p. XXX) demonstrate that the dif-
fusion of the south-west Asian crops towards cen-
tral Asia happened relatively early, although it took
longer to reach Transcaucasia and the Nile Valley.
All over these vast areas, the start of food produc-
tion involved the same south-west Asian crops.
Availability of archaeological evidence
Any attempt to reconstruct the origins and diffu-
sion of agriculture in Eurasia and Africa must
address the uneven archaeological record. As
already mentioned, plant remains of Europe, south-
west Asia, and the Mediterranean Basin provide us
with a reasonable overview of the beginnings and
development of agriculture in these major areas. In
contrast, the archaeobotanical evidence from cen-
tral and eastern parts of Asia and from eastern
Europe is much less complete. It is very poor in
Africa north of the Sahara. Consequently, while the
early stages of food production in south-west Asia
are relatively well documented, most founder crops
are adequately identi ed, and the expansion to
Europe and west Asia are convincingly elucidated,
there are far fewer solid facts on crop domestication
and the development of farming in east Asia ( Smith
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1998 ). However in the last few years, archaeobo-
tanical  ndings in these agricultural domains have
improved considerably. The history of crop domes-
tication in the African Savanna belt is still largely
uncharted and we still know very little about the
evolution of the unique crop assemblage of this
region ( Harlan 1992a ).
The time and place of origin of the majority of the
east and south Asian crops, and of practically all the
sub-Saharan African crops, are yet not fully estab-
lished. In numerous cases, the wild progenitors
have not yet been satisfactorily identi ed or they
are only very super cially known. However, critical
archaeobotanical information has been assembled
on at least two principal crops; rice ( Oryza sativa )
and foxtail millet ( Setaria italica ). Their essential role
in the independent rise of farming in China is now
well documented.
At present, our picture of crop-plant evolution in
Eurasia and Africa is unbalanced. While there is
relatively reliable information on its development
in the classical Old World, we are largely unin-
formed of events south and east of this area. We also
know relatively little about the early interactions
between west Asia and the major agricultural prov-
inces in east and south Asia, and in Africa south of
the Sahara.
Early domestication outside
the ‘core area’
Signs of additional domesticants start appearing
soon after the introduction of south-west Asia
agriculture to Europe, central Asia, and the
Mediter-ranean Basin. Addition of some of these
crops obviously took place outside south-west
Asia, but they developed within the already estab-
lished agriculture of the south-west Asian crop
assemblage. The poppy, Papaver somniferum, pro-
vides a well-documented example of such domes-
tication. Both the area of distribution of the wild
poppy and the archaeological  nds (p. XXX–XXX)
indicate that P. somniferum was brought into
domestication in west Europe. It was added to the
south-west Asian grain-crop assemblage after the
latter’s establishment in western Europe. Chufa,
Cyperus esculentus, is another example of an early
local addition, this time in the Nile Valley (p. XXX).
Its dry tubers were found in large quantities in
Egypt from pre-dynastic times on. The early
appearance of broomcorn millet, Panicum mil-
iaceum , in the Caspian basin and the Czech
Republic (p. XXX) might indicate another local
addition. However, since the archaeological evi-
dence from central and east Asia is still inadequate,
it is impossible to decide whether the Caspian P.
miliaceum was added to the expanding south-west
Asian crop assemblage after it reached central
Asia, or whether this cereal represents an east
Asiatic domestication independent of the south-
west Asian diffusion.
Beginning and spread of horticulture
Olive, grape vine,  g, and date palm seem to have
been the  rst principal fruit crops domesticated in
the Old World. De nite signs of olive and date-palm
domestication appear in Chalcolithic Levant about
6,800–6,300 cal BP. Indications of date-palm domes-
tication are also available from contemporary lower
Mesopotamia. We still do not know the extent of
Chalcolithic horticulture. Except for the Israel-
Jordan area, the archaeobotanical information from
seventh–sixth millennia BP sites in the Levant is
still insuf cient. The picture changes drastically in
the Early Bronze Age ( rst half of the  fth millen-
nium BP). From this time on, olives, grapes, and  gs
emerge as important additions to grain agriculture,
initially in the Levant and soon after, in Greece.
These crops were subsequently planted throughout
the Mediterranean Basin. The extensive Bronze Age
cultivation of olives and grapes is indicated by the
appearance of numerous presses and remains of
storage facilities for olive oil and wine. At the same
time, dates were domesticated on the southern
fringes and the warm river basins of the south-west
Asia, and they abound in the Nile Valley during the
New Kingdom.
Apple, pear, plum, and cherry seem to have been
added much later to Old World horticulture, as
de nite signs of their domestication appear only
in the  rst millennium BC. Their culture is almost
entirely based on grafting, so they could have been
domesticated extensively only after the introduc-
tion of this sophisticated method of vegetative
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Remains of fruit trees rarely show diagnostic ana-
tomical traits enabling archaeobotanists to distin-
guish between fruits collected from the wild or
those harvested from domesticated orchards. To a
large extent, recognizing domestication in fruit
crops is based on circumstantial evidence, such as
the  nding of fruit remains in areas in which the
wild forms do not occur or on the quantitative anal-
ysis of artefacts associated with fruit products (e.g.
oil, wine). It is dif cult, therefore, to determine the
initial stage of fruit crop domestication: in other
words, it might well be that olive, grape,  g, or date
cultivation did not originate in the Chalcolithic
(sixth millennium BP), but was already active in the
late Neolithic (seventh millennium BP).
Despite these uncertainties, the following have
been con rmed: (a) the earliest de nite signs of fruit
tree domestication appear in the south-west Asia;
(b) horticulture developed only after the  rm estab-
lishment of grain agriculture; (c) as with grain crops,
several local wild fruits were taken into domestica-
tion at about the same time; (d) domestication of
fruit crops relied heavily on the invention of vegeta-
tive propagation; (e) planting of perennial fruit trees
is a long-term investment, promoting a fully settled
way of life; (f) soon after its successful establish-
ment, horticulture spread from its original ‘core
area’ into new territories in the Mediterranean Basin
and south-west Asia; and (g) after the introduction
of grafting (pp. XXX–XXX), the domestication of a
whole group of ‘second-wave’ fruit crops became
Available archaeobotanical evidence of the
beginning of fruit-crop domestication can also be
supported by information on the wild relatives.
Wild olive, grape vine,  g, and date are widely
distributed over the Mediterranean and south-
west Asia. They have a wide geographic distribu-
tion, so this by itself does not provide critical
values for a precise delimitation of the place of
origin of these fruit crops. Yet it is reassuring to
know that forms from which domesticated clones
could have been derived thrive in wild niches in
the east Mediterranean basin. Therefore, evidence
from the living plants complements the archaeo-
logical  nds. Most probably olive, grape vine,
date,  g, as well as pomegranate and almond,
were  rst brought into domestication in the same
general area where, several millennia earlier, grain
agriculture was successfully established in the
Old World. Thus, during the sixth millennium BP,
eastern Mediterranean Basin human societies
belonging to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age cul-
tures, were introduced to the use of copper and
bronze, and they also mastered horticulture.
This is the least-known group of domesticated food
plants of the Old World. Vegetable material consists
almost entirely of perishable soft tissues, which
stand a meagre chance of charring and surviving as
archaeological remnants (p. XXX). Consequently,
only few vegetable remains have been detected in
excavations. The exceptions here are Egyptian and
Judean Desert caves. In Egypt, especially arid coun-
try vegetables placed in pyramids and graves com-
monly survived by desiccation, and show that
garlic, leek, onion, lettuce, melon, watermelon, and
chufa were cultivated in the Nile Valley in the sec-
ond and the  rst millennia BC. As amply described
by Keimer ( 1924 , 1984 ), vegetable gardens consti-
tuted an important element of food production in
Egyptian dynastic times.
Beyond Egypt there are almost no early archaeo-
botanical  nds of vegetable crops. However, early
literary sources show that by the start of the second
millennium BC, vegetable gardens  ourished not
only in the Nile Valley but also in Mesopotamia.
Furthermore, in both areas the crops grown were
more or less the same. The only major exception
was chufa which was restricted, almost entirely, to
In summary, available evidence makes it clear
that by the Bronze Age vegetable crops were part of
food production both in Lower Mesopotamia and
in Egypt. It is very likely that this geographic pat-
tern is not accidental. In both regions, we are faced
with the dense human settlement of very arid envi-
ronments. Survival in these zones depends on utili-
zation of limited areas of irrigated or  ooded land
which is bordered by large, barren deserts. Areas
with no vegetation have little to offer in the way of
supplementary resources of green wild plants. This
shortage invites human initiative. The early devel-
opment of vegetable gardens might have been
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caused by such needs. It must be taken into consid-
eration that this picture is partly skewed by the lack
of evidence in other regions.
Weeds and crops
Several Old World grain plants, oil producers, and
vegetables seem to be ‘secondary crops’; that is,
they  rst evolved as weeds and were only later
established as crops (p. XXX). Oat, Avena sativa, rye,
Secale cereale subsp. cereale , and gold of pleasure,
Camelina sativa, are well-documented examples of
this mode of evolution under domestication.
Turnip, lettuce, carrot, beet, leek, and several other
vegetables are also very likely to have entered
domestication through the same ‘back door’. The
incorporation of secondary crops into Old World
food production seems to have happened rather
late, since de nite signs of their domestication
appear in Europe and west Asia only in the second
and  rst millennia BC.
Migrants from other agricultural regions
With few exceptions, the classical ‘Old World’
(south-west Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and
temperate Europe) received crops from other agri-
cultural regions rather late in its agricultural his-
tory. Foreign crops that arrived in this area (in
pre-Columbian times) fall into the following geo-
graphical groups ( Zohary 1998 ):
(a) Temperate climate crops from central
and/or east Asia
Broomcorn millet ( Panicum miliaceum ) and foxtail
millet ( Setaria italica ) seem to represent the earliest
arrivals. The origin of P. miliaceum is not fully
understood, but it was probably taken into domes-
tication in central Asia–north China (p. XXX). It
already appears in Caucasia and in central Europe
in sites around the  rst half of the eighth millen-
nium BP. S. italica, now recognized as a founder
crop of north China agriculture (p. XXX), appeared
in central Europe in the  rst half of fourth millen-
nium BP, some four thousand years later. For mil-
let, as well, the available information suggests
arrival from the east (p. XXX). However, the pos-
sibility of independent domestication of foxtail
millet in the west has not been ruled out yet. Hemp
( Cannabis sativa ) reached Anatolia and Europe
much later. Its remains appear (p. XXX) from the
eighth century BC onwards. Apricot ( Armeniaca
vulgaris ) and peach ( Persica vulgaris ) could have
been taken into domestication either in central
Asia or in China (p. XXX); the domesticated pista-
chio ( Pistacia vera ) must have originated in central
Asia (p. XXX). The peach seems to have reached
the Mediterranean Basin by the middle of the  rst
millennium BC. Apricot and pistachio arrived only
in Roman times.
(b) Warm-weather crops from south and/or
east Asia
A group of more tropical crops (sensitive to freezing
temperatures) that originated in south and/or east
Asia, seem to have migrated into the south-west
Asia and the Mediterranean Basin from the Indian
subcontinent. Many of these cultigens were already
grown in India and Pakistan in the second millen-
nium BC. Sesame ( Sesamum indicum ) is apparently
the earliest of these migrants (p. XXX). Undisputed
remains of this Indian oil crop already appear in
south-west Asia in Iron Age (ca. 900–600 BC) con-
texts. The citron ( Citrus medica ) was grown in the
east Mediterranean basin (p. XXX) by the end of the
fourth century BC. Asian rice ( Oryza sativa ) seems to
have arrived (p. XXX) in Hellenistic or early Roman
times. The cucumber ( Cucumis sativus ) might also
have been introduced (p. XXX) at the same time.
Finally, Old World cottons ( Gossypium arboreum
and/or G. herbaceum ) could have already spread
from the Indian subcontinent into the south-west
Asia (p. XXX) during Roman rule. However, a fully
developed cotton industry appeared in this area
only in Early Islamic times.
An impressive introduction of Indian and south-
east Asian crops was undertaken by the Arabs soon
after their conquests ( Watson 1983 ; Zohary 1998 ).
The Early Islamic diffusion (eightth–eleventh cen-
turies AD) includes lemon ( Citrus limon ), lime
( C. aurantiifolia ), bitter orange ( C. aurantium ), pum-
melo ( C. maxima ), and indigo ( Indigofera tinctoria )—
all of which are discussed in this book. It also
involves sugar cane ( Saccharum of cinarum ) and
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sugar extraction technology, banana and plantain
( Musa cultivars), aubergine ( Solanum melongena ),
and taro ( Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott), although
these crops are not surveyed here.
(c) Warm-weather crops from Africa south
of the Sahara
Although there are several good reasons to assume
( Harlan 1992 ) that indigenous agriculture was
already well developed in sub-Saharan Africa by
1,000 BC (or even earlier), surprisingly few of the
native African cultigens spread north into the
Mediterranean Basin. This is even more puzzling
since several African grain crops, namely sorghum
( Sorghum bicolor ), pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum ),
and cow pea ( Vigna unguiculata ), seem to have
reached the Indian subcontinent already by the sec-
ond millennium BC (Possehl 1998; Fuller 2000;
Manning et al. 2011 ). In contrast, only few arrivals
are recorded north of the Sahara. Domesticated sor-
ghum, was grown in Egyptian Nubia from ca 100
AD onwards (p. XXX), yet there are no signs of its
spread further north. Advanced durra-type sor-
ghum cultivars appear in south-west Asia only in
Early Islamic times, and as Harlan and Stemler
(1978) argue, they might have arrived not from
Africa but from India. In addition, cowpea ( Vigna
unguiculata ) is known to have come from Egypt in
Hellenistic and Roman times ( Germer 1985 , p. 88).
0001353724.INDD 80001353724.INDD 8 10/18/2011 8:23:46 AM10/18/2011 8:23:46 AM

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... vinifera (cultivated grape) derive from domestication of V. vinifera ssp. sylvestris (Gmelin) Hegi (wild grape) (Scossiroli 1988;Zohary 1995;Sefc et al. 2003;Imazio et al. 2006;This et al. 2006;Cunha et al. 2007a;Zohary et al. 2012). The wild grape is a heliophilous liana that grows in riverside and lowland deciduous and semideciduous woodlands, in a distribution range that extends from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the western Himalayas (Levadoux 1956;Arnold et al. 1998;Zohary 1995;Zohary et al. 2012). ...
... sylvestris (Gmelin) Hegi (wild grape) (Scossiroli 1988;Zohary 1995;Sefc et al. 2003;Imazio et al. 2006;This et al. 2006;Cunha et al. 2007a;Zohary et al. 2012). The wild grape is a heliophilous liana that grows in riverside and lowland deciduous and semideciduous woodlands, in a distribution range that extends from the Atlantic coast of Europe to the western Himalayas (Levadoux 1956;Arnold et al. 1998;Zohary 1995;Zohary et al. 2012). ...
... According to archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence, domestication of the grape took place in the Caucasus and the Middle East between 6000 and 3000 bce (Negrul 1946;Arnold et al.1998;Zohary 1995;Olmo 1996;Zohary et al. 2012). The most ancient archaeobotanical evidence of domesticated grapes comes from the Jordan valley and dates back to the Chalcolithic (McGovern 2003; Barnard et al. 2011;Zohary et al. 2012). ...
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The Roman site of Torre dos Namorados (Fundão, Beiras region, central Portugal) is a rare find, identified as a Roman vicus (village), with evidence of making wine and olive oil. During the archaeological campaigns of 2006–2007, a rectangular Roman lacus musti (must, grape juice, settling vat) was found, built with tegulae (tiles) and bricks and containing thousands of charred grape pips and skins. By using a stepwise linear discriminant analysis method, a morphological comparison was made of these archaeological grape pips and with a reference collection of modern pips, both from cultivated Portuguese varieties of Vitis vinifera L. ssp. vinifera and from wild vines of Vitis vinifera L. ssp. sylvestris, to study similarities between them. The modern grape pips were charred in order to obtain suitable material to compare with the archaeological pips. The statistical analysis showed a clear association between the archaeological grape pips and wild grapes, suggesting that these were used for making wine in Roman times. The data presented here represent the first systematic study of Roman viticulture in the Lusitanian province of Iberia.
... This point is not clearly established because these seeds could also belong to wild species, associated with the crops. Additionally, others authors such as Zohary [21] disagree with this approach, dating the use of vetch into the agricultural systems in the Roman Empire, at a time when the use of vetch as a fodder species as already been reported, together with others species such as alfalfa and lupin or fenugreek, also associated with cereals and others grain legumes [22]. Columela, an ancient Roman scientist and writer who lived in the first century B.C. cited the use of vetch for poultry (hens and pigeons) feeding and as a fodder and green manure, together with other legumes such as alfalfa and fenugreek [23]. ...
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Common vetch (Vicia sativa L.) is a grain legume used in animal feeding, rich in protein content, fatty acid, and mineral composition that makes for a very adequate component to enrich feedstuff. In addition, relevant pharmacological properties have been reported in humans. The common vetch, similar to other legumes, can fix atmospheric nitrogen, a crucial feature for sustainable agricultural systems. These properties enhance the use of vetch as a cover crop and its sowing in intercropping systems. Moreover, several studies have recently pointed out the potential of vetch in the phytoremediation of contaminated soils. These characteristics make vetch a relevant crop, which different potential improvements target. Varieties with different yields, flowering times, shattering resistance, nutritional composition, rhizobacteria associations, drought tolerance, nitrogen fixation capacity, and other agronomic-relevant traits have been identified when different vetch accessions are compared. Recently, the analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data has allowed the development of different molecular markers to be used for assisted breeding purposes, promoting crop improvement. Here, we review the potential of using the variability of V. sativa genetic resources and new biotechnological and molecular tools for selecting varieties with improved traits to be used in sustainable agriculture systems.
... Hordeum spontaneum is the only wild species in the barley primary genepool (GP1) (Zohary et al. 2012) that makes the species of high value for barley breeding and thus deserving a special attention for both conservation and use. Results of our analyses show that most of the known populations of this species occurring in Lebanon has been already the object of collection suggesting that there is no urgent need for additional collection efforts at the current time. ...
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Lebanon is a part of the Fertile Crescent recognized for its agrobiodiversity wealth in terms of both cultivated plants and crop wild relatives (CWR) diversity. Within the context of climate change and its adverse effect on agrobiodiversity, conservation of CWRs in Lebanon is essential to prevent the loss of potentially useful genetic diversity and to facilitate their use in crop breeding. To establish a comprehensive conservation plan for Lebanese CWR belonging to Poaceae and Fabaceae, in this study we prioritized 16 taxa based on their value for world security and local economy, gene pool (primary and secondary) and genome type (A, B and D for Triticum genera). Georeferenced occurrence data of populations belonging to the prioritized taxa list were retrieved from different sources and imported into QGIS to visualize by mapping their distribution in-situ and ex-situ on the Lebanese territory, highlighting sites with highest density per genus and sites characterised by the highest taxa richness. The analysis allowed to identify Lebanese areas that still need further surveying actions (mainly the south-west parts of the country) and showed that priority taxa had different distribution pattern independently from genus. Bekaa and Baalbak governorates were evaluated to include sites represented with highest taxa richness, which makes them preliminary contenders to be included within in-situ conservation actions. This study provided a foundation for further research into the conservation planning of crop wild relatives belonging to Poaceae and Fabaceae in Lebanon by identifying areas with highest taxa richness.
En esta tercera parte del atlas de flora alóctona de Madrid, se incluyen los órdenes Ranunculales, Proteales, Buxales, Saxifragales, Vitales, Zygophyllales, Fabales y Rosales. Se consideran los taxones introducidos fuera de terrenos urbanos, naturalizados o no y aquellos naturalizados en zonas urbanas. Se analizan 90 taxones con presencia cierta o probable, y se discuten otros 22 de presencia o estatus dudoso. De los taxones analizados 82 son alóctonos en Madrid (48 naturalizados y 34 sin constancia de estarlo, aunque 7 de ellos naturalizados en localidades próximas) y 8 en localidades próximas (7 naturalizados y 1 sin constancia de estarlo). La mitad de las especies son raras, y otro 20 % son escasas. Tres especies son abundantes, con poblaciones en expansión, Gleditsia triacanthos, Robinia pseudoacacia y Ulmus pumila, la última con un comportamiento invasor. Cuatro arqueófitos cultivados, Vitis vinifera, Medicago sativa, Prunus amygdalus y Ficus carica, están ampliamente naturalizados, aunque si una tendencia expansiva. Otras cuatro especies aparecen dispersas, sin ser abundantes pero parecen en expansión: Papaver somniferum subsp. somniferum, Berberis aquifolium, Spartium junceum y Prunus cerasifera var. atropurpurea. Otras 16 especies aparecen dispersas por la región, ocasionalmente naturalizadas, pero sin una tendencia expansiva aparente.
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Leaf rust caused by Puccinia triticina Erikss. (Pt) is the most widely distributed and important wheat disease worldwide. The objective of the present study was to determine the frequency of Iranian Pt races, their virulence to key resistance genes and map quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance to different Pt races from 185 globally diverse wheat genotypes using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach. The virulence pattern of the 33 Pt isolates from various wheat-growing areas of Iran on 55 wheat differentials showed that the FKTPS and FKTTS were relatively frequent pathotypes among the 18 identified races. The weighted average frequency of virulence on the resistance genes Lrb, Lr3bg, Lr14b, Lr16, Lr24, Lr3ka, Lr11 and Lr20 were high (> 90%). However, low virulence on the resistant genes Lr2a, Lr9, Lr19, Lr25, Lr28 and Lr29 indicates that these genes are still effective against the pathogen population in Iran at present. GWAS on a panel of 185 wheat genotypes against 10 Pt races resulted into 62 significant marker-trait associations (MTAs) belonged to 34 quantitative trait loci (QTL) across 16 chromosomes. Among them, 10 QTLs on chromosomes 1A, 1B, 3B, 3D, 4A, 6D, 7A and 7D were identified as potential novel QTLs, of which four QTLs (QLr.iau-3B-2, QLr.iau-7A-2, QLr.iau-7A-3 and QLr.iau-7D-2) are more interesting, as they are associated with resistance to two or more Pt races. The known and novel QTLs associated with different Pt races found here, can be used in future wheat breeding programs to recombine different loci for durable resistance against leaf rust races.
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In 2020, the construction of a pipeline led to a rescue archaeological excavation at the 130–240 cal AD Roman Iron Age settlement site near Skudeniai. The discovered material from its brief occupation has provided substantial new data on unenclosed settlements in the Late Striated Ware Culture. The distinct posthole accumulations in the surveyed area make it possible to identify building locations and to analyse the settlement’s structure by differentiating between the domestic and economic activity zones. The collection of pottery from Skudeniai’s brief existence provided a better understanding of the differences between the contemporary pottery groups. The first ever application of the petrographic method in the analysis of this culture’s ceramics also yielded important results that led to a new classification system that established distinctions between the three contemporary pottery groups. The archaeobotanical material from Skudeniai is of great importance for understanding the development of agriculture as it is only the second Late Striated Ware Culture archaeobotanical assemblege from a chronologically pure context. The article also analyses issues related to non-ferrous and ferrous metallurgy and trade connections. Keywords: Late Striated Ware Culture, unenclosed settlements, pottery, petrography, agriculture.
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Charred remains of wild rye from five sites in the Middle Euphrates region in Syria dated to the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene are examined. This period spans the transition from gathering to the beginnings of cultivation. Today wild rye cannot grow in the region because temperatures and aridity are too pronounced. Wild rye grains and wild two-grained einkorn are morphologically similar, which has led to difficulties in identification; in some cases rye may have been identified as two-grained einkorn or as Triticum/Secale. In this paper, with reference to modern specimens and re-examination of charred material from Dja’de el-Mughara, Jerf el-Ahmar and Mureybet, we examine the criteria for identification and revise the results for charred caryopses and wild spikelet bases. We then present these new results which show that at the early Neolithic sites of Jerf el-Ahmar, Mureybet, Dja’de el-Mughara and Tell ‘Abr 3 wild rye frequencies are much higher than einkorn but wild barley is the dominant cereal. This is followed by discussions of how and why wild rye may have been exploited during the early Neolithic and why rye disappears from Euphrates sites with the advent of mixed farming.
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Societal Impact Statement: Given the rapidly increasing drought and temperature stresses associated with climate change, innovative approaches for food security are imperative. One understudied opportunity is using feral crops—plants that have escaped and persisted without cultivation—as a source of genetic diversity, which could build resilience in domesticated conspecifics. In some cases, however, feral plants vigorously compete with crops as weeds, challenging food security. By bridging historically siloed ecological, agronomic, and evolutionary lines of inquiry into feral crops, there is the opportunity to improve food security and understand this relatively understudied anthropogenic phenomenon. Summary: The phenomenon of feral crops, that is, free-living populations that have established outside cultivation, is understudied. Some researchers focus on the negative consequences of domestication, whereas others assert that feral populations may serve as useful pools of genetic diversity for future crop improvement. Although research on feral crops and the process of feralization has advanced rapidly in the last two decades, generalizable insights have been limited by a lack of comparative research across crop species and other factors. To improve international coordination of research on this topic, we summarize the current state of feralization research and chart a course for future study by consolidating outstanding questions in the field. These questions, which emerged from the colloquium “Darwins' reversals: What we now know about Feralization and Crop Wild Relatives” at the BOTANY 2021 conference, fall into seven categories that span both basic and applied research: (1) definitions and drivers of ferality, (2) genetic architecture and pathway, (3) evolutionary history and biogeography, (4) agronomy and breeding, (5) fundamental and applied ecology, (6) collecting and conservation, and (7) taxonomy and best practices. These questions serve as a basis for ferality researchers to coordinate research in these areas, potentially resulting in major contributions to food security in the face of climate change.
Pale flax (Linum bienne) is long known to be the wild progenitor of cultivated flax (L. usitatissimum) and is expected to harbor an important source of genetic variability for flax genetic improvement. Here, we documented relevant studies on the taxonomy, biology, domestication, genetics, genomics, utilization, and conservation of the pale flax, with the hope of identifying the gaps in the investigation, conservation and utilization of this flax species. It was obvious that little exploration had been done, particularly regarding its utilization and conservation. Pale flax germplasm was not adequately collected across its distribution range for ex situ conservation. Explorative studies of pale flax for its use in modern flax breeding were scarce. Genetic analyses of adaptive traits and genomic analyses of pale flax germplasm were not comprehensive. Few genes of agricultural importance were reported. These documentations underline the need for a species vulnerability assessment, a comprehensive collection of extant pale flax germplasm, a detailed investigation of pale flax genes of importance to agriculture and scientific inference, and more exploration of pale flax for its utilization in the genetic improvement of cultivated flax.
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