Ancient figs excavated in Israel may be the worlds first cultivated crops

September 12th, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, September 12 (ANI): Archaeologists in Israel say that the figs they discovered while excavating at the sit of an 11,400-year-old house near the ancient city of Jericho may be the first cultivated crops.
The researchers say that the find provides evidence that cultivated crops came centuries before the first farmers planted cereal grains.
They say the fruits found in the excavated house in a village called Gilgal appeared to be mutant figs growing on a rare kind of tree that was not pollinated by insects, and would not reproduce unless someone took a cutting and planted it.
Harvard anthropologist Ofer Bar-Yosef thinks that generations of people must have lived around wild fig trees until someone figured out how to grow those mutants.
“It’’s generally women who do the gathering in hunting-and-gathering societies. And you know years of experience would tell them exactly how the plants behaved…. ,” the National Public Radio quoted Bar-Yosef as saying.
In their research paper, published in the journal Science, the researchers say that the figs discovered might be the first cultivated crops.
They, however, suspects the transition to domesticated crops like barley, oats or figs was a slow process.
“The facts that the figs were already domesticated means that humans were enjoying this practice of cutting branches and sticking them into the ground to be the new trees. You don”t get plants like figs domesticated if you don”t start planting it systematically again and again,” Bar-Yosef said. (ANI)

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