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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: March 2008

II.A.10 - Wheat

from II.A - Grains
Summary
Wheat, a grass that today feeds 35 percent of the earth's population, appeared as a crop among the world's first farmers 10,000 years ago. Botanical and archaeological evidence for wheat domestication constitutes one of the most comprehensive case studies in the origins of agriculture. While archaeologists recognize the momentous developments set in motion by food production in the ancient Near East, they continue to debate the essential factors that first caused people to begin farming wheat and barley. To domesticate wheat, humans must have manipulated wild wheats, either through selective gathering or deliberate cultivation, with the latter implying activities such as preparing ground, sowing, and eliminating competing plants. The earliest remains of domesticated plants are the charred seeds and plant parts found on archaeological sites that date to the beginning of the Neolithic period. Botanical and ecological evidence for the domestication of wheat and its differentiation into many species also partially contributes to an understanding of the first domestication.
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The Cambridge World History of Food
  • Online ISBN: 9781139058636
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521402149
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