Neolithic founder crops

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The Neolithic founder crops (or primary domesticates) are the eight plant species that were domesticated by early Holocene (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region of southwest Asia, and which formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and Europe. They consist of flax, three cereals and four pulses, and are the first known domesticated plants in the world.[1] Although domesticated rye (Secale cereale) occurs in the final Epi-Palaeolithic strata at Tell Abu Hureyra (the earliest instance of domesticated plant species),[2] it was insignificant in the Neolithic Period of southwest Asia and only became common with the spread of farming into northern Europe several millennia later.[3]

Users of this information should be aware that the title of this article may be misleading. Other areas of the world similarly domesticated plants for use as crops around the same time. Even in the Near-East region addressed above, there is compelling genetic evidence that figs had already been selectively propagated for a long time before 10,000 B.C.[4] The focus on the above founder crops also ignores the contemporary developments in the New World, where domesticated squashes originated before 8,000 B.C., and peanuts before 8,500 B.C. (and within a millenium had domesticatd cotton).[5] In the forests of the Amazon Basin, the cassava was also cultivated before 8,000 B.C.[6] Rice culture in the Yangtze River basin has been established on the same timeline.[7]


List[edit]

Cereals[edit]

  • Emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum, descended from the wild T. dicoccoides)
  • Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum, descended from the wild T. boeoticum)
  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare/sativum, descended from the wild H. spontaneum)

Pulses[edit]

Other[edit]

  • Flax (Linum usitatissimum)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Zohary, Daniel; Hopf, Maria; Weiss, Ehud (2012). Domestication of Plants in the Old World: The Origin and Spread of Domesticated Plants in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin (Fourth ed.). Oxford: University Press. p. 139..
  2. ^ Hillman G., Hedges R., Moore A., Colledge S., Pettitt P. New evidence of late glacial cereal cultivation at Abu Hureyra on the euphrates (2001) Holocene, 11 (4), pp. 383-393
  3. ^ G. Hillman. Late Pleistocene changes in wild plant-foods available to hunter-gatherers of the northern Fertile Crescent: possible preludes to cereal cultivation. In Harris, ed. The origins and spread of agriculture and pastoralism in Eurasia. 1996.
  4. ^ http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2006/06/figs-likely-first-domesticated-crop/
  5. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/28/science/28cnd-squash.html
  6. ^ Olsen, KM; Schaal, BA (1999). "Evidence on the origin of cassava: phylogeography of Manihot esculenta". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 96 (10): 5586–91. Bibcode:1999PNAS...96.5586O. doi:10.1073/pnas.96.10.5586. PMC 21904. PMID 10318928
  7. ^ "New Archaeobotanic Data for the Study of the Origins of Agriculture in China", Zhijun Zhao, Current Anthropology Vol. 52, No. S4, (October 2011), pp. S295-S306

Further reading[edit]