Hunter-Gatherers Stored Wild Crops: Granaries in the Middle East Predated Plant Domestication

Article excerpt

It apparently took a long time to get the Agricultural Revolution off the ground. Prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the Middle East cultivated the early farming life over more than a millennium, thanks largely to their proficiency at building structures to store wild cereals, a new report suggests.

Excavations at [Dhra.sup.1] near the Dead Sea in Jordan have uncovered remnants of four sophisticated granaries built between 11,300 and 11,175 years ago, about a millennium before domesticated plants were known to have been cultivated there, say Ian Kuijt of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and Bill Finlayson of the Council for British Research in the Levant in Amman, Jordan.

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Microscopic pieces of silica from barley husks were identified in one structure, the researchers report online June 22 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The granaries were situated between oval-shaped buildings where the researchers found stone tools for grinding wild plants. Intact cereal grains have yet to be found.

Discoveries at [Dhra. …