Neolithic founder crops

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]


  • 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)



  • Flax (Linum usitatissimum)

See also


  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.

Further reading

  • Daniel Zohary, Maria Hopf, Ehud Weiss (2012). Domestication of Plants in the Old World: The Origin and Spread of Domesticated Plants in Southwest Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin. Fourth edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-850356-3

Agriculture is the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that enabled people to live in cities. The history of agriculture began thousands of years ago. After gathering wild grains beginning at least 105,000 years ago, nascent farmers began to plant them around 11,500 years ago. Pigs, sheep and cattle were domesticated over 10,000 years ago. Plants were independently cultivated in at least 11 regions of the world. Industrial agriculture based on large-scale monoculture in the twentieth century came to dominate agricultural output, though about 2 billion people still depended on subsistence agriculture into the twenty-first.

Modern agronomy, plant breeding, agrochemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers, and technological developments have sharply increased yields, while causing widespread ecological and environmental damage. Selective breeding and modern practices in animal husbandry have similarly increased the output of meat, but have raised concerns about animal welfare and environmental damage. Environmental issues include contributions to global warming, depletion of aquifers, deforestation, antibiotic resistance, and growth hormones in industrial meat production. Genetically modified organisms are widely used, although some are banned in certain countries.

The major agricultural products can be broadly grouped into foods, fibers, fuels and raw materials (such as rubber). Food classes include cereals (grains), vegetables, fruits, oils, meat, milk, fungi and eggs. Over one-third of the world's workers are employed in agriculture, second only to the service sector, although the number of agricultural workers in developed countries has decreased significantly over the centuries.

Ancient grains

Ancient grains are a grouping of grains and pseudocereals that are considered to have been minimally changed by selective breeding over recent millennia, as opposed to more widespread cereals such as corn, rice and modern varieties of wheat, which are the product of thousands of years of selective breeding. Ancient grains are often marketed as being more nutritious than modern grains, though their health benefits have been disputed by some nutritionists.Ancient grains include varieties of wheat: spelt, Khorasan wheat (Kamut), freekeh, bulgur, farro, einkorn, and emmer; the grains millet, barley, teff, oats, and sorghum; and the pseudocereals quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and chia. Modern wheat is a hybrid descendant of three wheat species considered to be ancient grains: spelt, einkorn, and emmer.


A cereal (or cereal grain) is any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain itself. Cereal grain crops are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop and are therefore staple crops. Edible grains from other plant families, such as buckwheat (Polygonaceae), quinoa (Amaranthaceae) and chia (Lamiaceae), are referred to as pseudocereals.

In their natural, unprocessed, whole grain form, cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. When processed by the removal of the bran, and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate. In some developing countries, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed countries, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.

The word cereal is derived from Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvest and agriculture.

Chogha Golan

Chogha Golan is an aceramic Neolithic archaeological site in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains in Iran, about 200 m (656 ft) from the right bank of the Konjan Cham River. Located in a semi-arid region about 30 km (19 mi) north of Mehran, Chogha Golan is one of the earliest aceramic Neolithic site found in Iran. The people of Chogha Golan relied primarily on the cultivation of wild plants and hunting. Chogha Golan is notable for the early presence of domesticated emmer wheat, dating to around 9,800 BP.


A crop is a plant or animal product that can be grown and harvested extensively for profit or subsistence. Crop may refer either to the harvested parts or to the harvest in a more refined state. Most crops are cultivated in agriculture or aquaculture. A crop is usually expanded to include macroscopic fungus (e.g. mushrooms), or alga (algaculture).

Most crops are harvested as food for humans or fodder for livestock. Some crops are gathered from the wild (including intensive gathering, e.g. ginseng).

Important non-food crops include horticulture, floriculture and industrial crops. Horticulture crops include plants used for other crops (e.g. fruit trees). Floriculture crops include bedding plants, houseplants, flowering garden and pot plants, cut cultivated greens, and cut flowers. Industrial crops are produced for clothing (fiber crops), biofuel (energy crops, algae fuel), or medicine (medicinal plants).

Fertile Crescent

The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan as well as the southeastern fringe of Turkey and the western fringes of Iran. Some authors also include Cyprus.

The region has been called the "cradle of civilization", because it is where settled farming first began to emerge as people started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation in order to grow newly domesticated plants as crops. Early human civilizations such as Sumer flourished as a result. Technological advances in the region include the development of writing, glass, the wheel, agriculture, and the use of irrigation.

Founder effect

In population genetics, the founder effect is the loss of genetic variation that occurs when a new population is established by a very small number of individuals from a larger population. It was first fully outlined by Ernst Mayr in 1942, using existing theoretical work by those such as Sewall Wright. As a result of the loss of genetic variation, the new population may be distinctively different, both genotypically and phenotypically, from the parent population from which it is derived. In extreme cases, the founder effect is thought to lead to the speciation and subsequent evolution of new species.In the figure shown, the original population has nearly equal numbers of blue and red individuals. The three smaller founder populations show that one or the other color may predominate (founder effect), due to random sampling of the original population. A population bottleneck may also cause a founder effect, though it is not strictly a new population.

The founder effect occurs when a small group of migrants that is not genetically representative of the population from which they came establish in a new area. In addition to founder effects, the new population is often a very small population, so shows increased sensitivity to genetic drift, an increase in inbreeding, and relatively low genetic variation.

History of agriculture

The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development and dissemination of techniques for raising them productively. Agriculture began independently in different parts of the globe, and included a diverse range of taxa. At least eleven separate regions of the Old and New World were involved as independent centers of origin.

Wild grains were collected and eaten from at least 20,000 BC. From around 9500 BC, the eight Neolithic founder crops – emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch, chick peas, and flax – were cultivated in the Levant. Rye may have been cultivated earlier but this remains controversial. Rice was domesticated in China by 6200 BC with earliest known cultivation from 5700 BC, followed by mung, soy and azuki beans. Pigs were domesticated in Mesopotamia around 11,000 BC, followed by sheep between 11,000 BC and 9000 BC. Cattle were domesticated from the wild aurochs in the areas of modern Turkey and Pakistan around 8500 BC. Sugarcane and some root vegetables were domesticated in New Guinea around 7000 BC. Sorghum was domesticated in the Sahel region of Africa by 5000 BC. In the Andes of South America, the potato was domesticated between 8000 BC and 5000 BC, along with beans, coca, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs. Bananas were cultivated and hybridized in the same period in Papua New Guinea. In Mesoamerica, wild teosinte was domesticated to maize by 4000 BC. Cotton was domesticated in Peru by 3600 BC. Camels were domesticated late, perhaps around 3000 BC.

The Bronze Age, from c. 3300 BC, witnessed the intensification of agriculture in civilizations such as Mesopotamian Sumer, ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley Civilisation of the Indian subcontinent, ancient China, and ancient Greece. During the Iron Age and era of classical antiquity, the expansion of ancient Rome, both the Republic and then the Empire, throughout the ancient Mediterranean and Western Europe built upon existing systems of agriculture while also establishing the manorial system that became a bedrock of medieval agriculture. In the Middle Ages, both in the Islamic world and in Europe, agriculture was transformed with improved techniques and the diffusion of crop plants, including the introduction of sugar, rice, cotton and fruit trees such as the orange to Europe by way of Al-Andalus. After the voyages of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Columbian exchange brought New World crops such as maize, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and manioc to Europe, and Old World crops such as wheat, barley, rice, and turnips, and livestock including horses, cattle, sheep, and goats to the Americas.

Irrigation, crop rotation, and fertilizers were introduced soon after the Neolithic Revolution and developed much further in the past 200 years, starting with the British Agricultural Revolution. Since 1900, agriculture in the developed nations, and to a lesser extent in the developing world, has seen large rises in productivity as human labour has been replaced by mechanization, and assisted by synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and selective breeding. The Haber-Bosch process allowed the synthesis of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on an industrial scale, greatly increasing crop yields. Modern agriculture has raised social, political, and environmental issues including water pollution, biofuels, genetically modified organisms, tariffs and farm subsidies. In response, organic farming developed in the twentieth century as an alternative to the use of synthetic pesticides.

History of genetic engineering

Genetic engineering as the direct transfer of DNA from one organism to another was first accomplished by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen in 1964. It was the result of a series of advancements in techniques that allowed the direct modification of the genome. Important advances included the discovery of restriction enzymes and DNA ligases, the ability to design plasmids and technologies like polymerase chain reaction and sequencing. Transformation of the DNA into a host organism was accomplished with the invention of biolistics, Agrobacterium-mediated recombination and microinjection.

The first genetically modified animal was a mouse created in 1974 by Rudolf Jaenisch. In 1976 the technology was commercialised, with the advent of genetically modified bacteria that produced somatostatin, followed by insulin in 1978. In 1983 an antibiotic resistant gene was inserted into tobacco, leading to the first genetically engineered plant. Advances followed that allowed scientists to manipulate and add genes to a variety of different organisms and induce a range of different effects. Plants were first commercialized with virus resistant tobacco released in China in 1992. The first genetically modified food was the Flavr Savr tomato marketed in 1994. By 2010, 29 countries had planted commercialized biotech crops. In 2000 a paper published in Science introduced golden rice, the first food developed with increased nutrient value.

List of ancient dishes

This is a list of ancient dishes, foods and beverages that have been recorded as originating during ancient history. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, beginning with Sumerian Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC.Ancient history can be defined as occurring from the beginning of recorded human history to:

The Early Middle Ages (the end of the 4th century AD)

The fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD

The Postclassical Era (200-600 AD and 1200–1500 AD, depending on the continent)Although the end date of ancient history is disputed, some Western scholars use the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD (the most used), the closure of the Platonic Academy in 529 AD, the death of the emperor Justinian I in 565 AD, the birth of Islam in 610 CE or the rise of Charlemagne as the end of ancient and Classical European history. This list does not contain entries that originated after ancient history.

List of food origins

Some type of foods were always common in every continent, such as many seafood and plants. Examples of these types of food are honey, ants, mussels, crabs and coconuts. Nikolai Vavilov initially identified the centers of origin for eight crop plants, subdividing them further into twelve groups in 1935.

Neolithic Revolution

The Neolithic Revolution, Neolithic Demographic Transition, Agricultural Revolution, or First Agricultural Revolution was the wide-scale transition of many human cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and settlement, making an increasingly larger population possible. These settled communities permitted humans to observe and experiment with plants to learn how they grew and developed. This new knowledge led to the domestication of plants.Archaeological data indicates that the domestication of various types of plants and animals happened in separate locations worldwide, starting in the geological epoch of the Holocene around 12,500 years ago. It was the world's first historically verifiable revolution in agriculture. The Neolithic Revolution greatly narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition.The Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it would transform the small and mobile groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human pre-history into sedentary (non-nomadic) societies based in built-up villages and towns. These societies radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized food-crop cultivation, with activities such as irrigation and deforestation which allowed the production of surplus food. Other developments found very widely are the domestication of animals, pottery, polished stone tools, and rectangular houses.

These developments, sometimes called the Neolithic package, provided the basis for centralized administrations and political structures, hierarchical ideologies, depersonalized systems of knowledge (e.g. writing), densely populated settlements, specialization and division of labour, more trade, the development of non-portable art and architecture, and property ownership. The earliest known civilization developed in Sumer in southern Mesopotamia (c.  6,500 BP); its emergence also heralded the beginning of the Bronze Age.The relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence, and empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, and varies from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution. The Levant saw the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, followed by sites in the wider Fertile Crescent.

New World crops

The phrase "New World crops" is usually used to describe crops, food and otherwise, that were native to the New World (mostly the Americas) before 1492 CE and not found anywhere else at that time. Many of these crops are now grown around the world and have often become an integral part of the cuisine of various cultures in the Old World.

Notable among these crops are the Three Sisters: maize, winter squash, and climbing beans.

Timeline of plant evolution

This article attempts to place key plant innovations in a geological context. It concerns itself only with novel adaptations and events that had a major ecological significance, not those that are of solely anthropological interest. The timeline displays a graphical representation of the adaptations; the text attempts to explain the nature and robustness of the evidence.

Plant evolution is an aspect of the study of biological evolution, predominantly involving evolution of plants suited to live on land, greening of various land masses by the filling of their niches with land plants, and diversification of groups of land plants.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.