Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Earliest Grain Storage

This puts human grain husbandry back a full one thousand years. Much is made of the idea that this was before the grain had been domesticated. I am more inclined to think that the wild grain was been actively farmed. It is a matter of burning of the brush, somewhat disturbing the soil and casting down seed and raking the seed bed. That is agriculture. Domesticated forms arose from the wild versions by various hybrids that also typically doubled the number of genes. Active farming had to precede the selection of sports.

Recall that the Indians in the America actively promoted open underbrush free woodlands and huge numbers of convenient nut trees. In California, they managed huge groves of oak trees for their acorns. The acorns were soaked in cold water in the river to draw out the bitter tannins, before dried and then pounded into flour.

Preparing a grain field in grassland looks pretty obvious to this observer.

Thus were any form of field work was possible, it came fast and apparently with the wild sources at hand. These were initially none too convenient, but the mere fact of harvesting will force seed selection to accommodate a shorter and easier window.

Considering how corn emerged from its wild progenitors into the plant that today is utterly dependent on our intervention, it is fair to say that far more is possible than has ever been attempted.

Study: Food storage began well before farming

Mon Jun 22, 5:51 pm ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090622/ap_on_sc/us_sci_ancient_grain_storage

WASHINGTON – People were storing grain long before they learned to domesticate crops, a new study indicates. A structure used as a food granary discovered in recent excavations in Jordan dates to about 11,300 years ago, according to a report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That's as much as a thousand years before people in the Middle East domesticated grain, the research team led by anthropologist Ian Kuijt of the University of Notre Dame said.

Remains of wild barley were found in the structure, indicating that the grain was collected and saved even though formal cultivation had not yet developed.

The granary was between two other structures used for grain processing and residences, discovered in excavations at Dhra', near the Dead Sea. The granary was round with walls of stone and mud. The researchers said it had a raised floor for air circulation and protection from rodents.

The ability to store food is essential for the development of farming, the researchers said.

"The granaries represent a critical evolutionary shift in the relationship between people and plant foods, which precedes the emergence of domestication and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years," they reported.

The research was funded by the British Academy, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the U.S. National Science Foundation and the University of Notre Dame.
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On the Net:
PNAS: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_sc/storytext/us_sci_ancient_grain_storage/32455964/SIG=10lhfeomm/*http:/www.pnas.org

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