Archaeobotany and Domestication
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Archaeobotany and Domestication
Crop origins evidence from archaeology and botany
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Earliest fire in Africa: towards the convergence of archaeological evidence and the cooking hypothesis

Earliest fire in Africa: towards the convergence of archaeological evidence and the cooking hypothesis | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Issues of early fire use have become topical in human evolution, after a long period in which fire scarcely featured in general texts. Interest has been stimulated by new archaeological finds in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and also by major inputs from other disciplines, including primatology and evolutionary psychology. Evidence for fire is, however, often disputed, especially with regard to the early cases in Africa. Interpretations often struggle to take into account the implications of a huge bias in archaeological preservation, which means that our surviving evidence does not accurately map the past. Additionally, there is often a ‘yes-no’ presence/absence approach to fire, which does not recognise that earliest hominin fire use may have occurred in interaction with natural fire, and may not even have included deliberate hearth use in its first stages. Here we examine the need to integrate different approaches to the issues of early fire-use, considering especially the earliest archaeological evidence and the ‘cooking hypothesis’, while also tackling the issues of apparent differences in early African and European fire records.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This is interesting review of the fire problem, and makes the case that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence for absence. There remains little evidence for fire before 800,000 bp and not from europe before about 400,000-- but it seems hard to imagine how early Homo in more northerly Europe survived without it. Given that Wrangham, the co-author, of this paper has reasonably argued that fire and cooking were key drivers of later human evolution, i.e. towards Homo sapiens there remains a challenge for archaeologists find early fires where they ought to have been.

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Genome-wide comparative diversity uncovers multiple targets of selection for improvement in hexaploid wheat landraces and cultivars

Genome-wide comparative diversity uncovers multiple targets of selection for improvement in hexaploid wheat landraces and cultivars | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Domesticated crops experience strong human-mediated selection aimed at developing high-yielding varieties adapted to local conditions. To detect regions of the wheat genome subject to selection during improvement, we developed a high-throughput array to interrogate 9,000 gene-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) in a worldwide sample of 2,994 accessions of hexaploid wheat including landraces and modern cultivars. Using a SNP-based diversity map we characterized the impact of crop improvement on genomic and geographic patterns of genetic diversity. We found evidence of a small population bottleneck and extensive use of ancestral variation often traceable to founders of cultivars from diverse geographic regions. Analyzing genetic differentiation among populations and the extent of haplotype sharing, we identified allelic variants subjected to selection during improvement. Selective sweeps were found around genes involved in the regulation of flowering time and phenology. An introgression of a wild relative-derived gene conferring resistance to a fungal pathogen was detected by haplotype-based analysis. Comparing selective sweeps identified in different populations, we show that selection likely acts on distinct targets or multiple functionally equivalent alleles in different portions of the geographic range of wheat. The majority of the selected alleles were present at low frequency in local populations, suggesting either weak selection pressure or temporal variation in the targets of directional selection during breeding probably associated with changing agricultural practices or environmental conditions. The developed SNP chip and map of genetic variation provide a resource for advancing wheat breeding and supporting future population genomic and genome-wide association studies in wheat.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

After a major division between spring and winter wheat groups, much variation is partitioned geographically. Overlaying this is evidence for post-domestication in various parts of genome, including those associated with vernalization and photoperiodicity genes, but the extent of selection bottlenecks associated with these genes varies geographically: in short wheat has been subject to a complex and variable mosaic of selection pressures since it was first cultivated and spread acorss Eurasia.

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African Origins of Coffee: Following Roots in Ethiopia | Sarah Khan

African Origins of Coffee: Following Roots in Ethiopia | Sarah Khan | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
African origins of coffee can be trace to Ethiopia, where it has strong roots and offers a lesson.

Via Eve Emshwiller
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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, April 9, 2013 10:58 PM

Another wonderful treatment from Sarah Khan.

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Tree-Felling, Woodworking, and Changing Perceptions of the Landscape during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods in the Southern Levant

Tree-Felling, Woodworking, and Changing Perceptions of the Landscape during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic Periods in the Southern Levant | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Examination of 206 Neolithic and Chalcolithic bifaces from the southern Levant revealed that changes in form during the emergence of agropastoralism correlated with evolving land use practices, but new biface types also expressed altered social identities and perceptions of the environment. Nonfunctional groundstone pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) bifaces seem to have served as social and status symbols, while flaked flint PPNA tranchet axes and chisels were used for carpentry rather than tree-felling. This pattern continued during the following early pre-pottery Neolithic B (EPPNB) period, but a new sharpening method, polishing, was used on a unique flint tranchet ax to strengthen its edge. By the MPPNB and LPPNB, heavier polished flint axes were used to clear forests for fields, grazing lands, wood fuel, and lumber. Sustainable forest management continued until the cumulative effects of tree-felling may have led to landscape degradation at the end of the PPNC. Adzes replace axes as heavy woodworking tools during the pottery Neolithic A (PNA) period, but by the PNB period, once again there are more carpentry tools than tree-felling bifaces. The trend is reversed again during the Chalcolithic, when the demand for fire wood, lumber, and cleared land seems to have increased during a time of emerging socioeconomic complexity.

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Dorian Q Fuller's comment, April 24, 2013 11:52 AM
Nice study of changing axes and axe use (from microwear) showing that tree-felling rises in the later PPNB. A nice correlation with when crops are fully domesticated, the crop package has become more complete and when, therefore we can really think in terms of agriculture, some 2000 years or more after the start of early cutlivation. (On the cultivation side of things, see the discussion by Asout & Fuller in Vegetation history and Archaeobotany last year: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00334-011-0332-0
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Archaeologists Say the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Here—But It Began Long Ago

Archaeologists Say the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Here—But It Began Long Ago | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

A vocal group of geologists and other scientists are pushing to define a new geological epoch, marked by climatic and environmental change caused by humans. At the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Honolulu, archaeologists argued that it's high time for their field, which studies humans and their activities over geological time, to have a greater voice in the debate. The archaeologists agreed that human impacts on the Earth are dramatic enough to merit a new epoch name—but they also argued that such an epoch should start thousands of years ago, rather than focusing on a relatively sudden planetwide change.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A more theory discussion of this is diserved, but this news peice highlights the fact that archaeologists are starting to engage with an issue that in geography and earth sciences is a big issue: human activities across the Holocene have been modifying environments, increasingly, and plausibly also modifying greenhouse gas levels, prior to the industrial era. It is about time more archaeologists took an active roll in these discussions. (See also Ruddiman's recent review (http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-earth-050212-123944 ;), and my past blogs: http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/anthropogenic

[The image above is from Ruddiman 2013]

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diana buja's curator insight, April 24, 2013 9:49 AM
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A more theory discussion of this is diserved, but this news peice highlights the fact that archaeologists are starting to engage with an issue that in geography and earth sciences is a big issue: human activities across the Holocene have been modifying environments, increasingly, and plausibly also modifying greenhouse gas levels, prior to the industrial era. It is about time more archaeologists took an active roll in these discussions. (See also Ruddiman's recent review (http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-earth-050212-123944 ;), and my past blogs: http://archaeobotanist.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/anthropogenic

[The image above is from Ruddiman 2013]

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Millet and sauce: The uses and functions of querns among the Minyanka (Mali)

Millet and sauce: The uses and functions of querns among the Minyanka (Mali) | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The central role of grinding activities in the dietary practices of traditional agricultural populations can be approached from an ethnoarchaeological point of view. The comparison of ethnographic references raises the question whether the function and the socioeconomic context in which grinding slabs are used allow to assess issues related to conclusions drawn from archaeological contexts. Our discussion is based on the analysis of the manufacturing of grinding slabs, their use cycles and their social status in several Minyanka villages (Mali), providing useful references when examining the way in which archaeologists explain and interpret technological, functional and spatial observations. The typological and technical evolution and variability of querns results from a combination of several factors determined by the available raw materials, the skill of shaping techniques, the organisation of manufacturing and the transference of the function of grinding tools. But these factors alone cannot explain the encountered range of variation. Our study thus emphasises the very role of cultural aspects within these temporal and regional developments, and the impossibility of dissociating the use of a quern from its socio-economic context.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Not the best edited paper, as the plant names are wrong, pearl is referred by two genus names (should be Pennisetum glaucum). Looking oast that some nice descriptions of millet grinding and use of groundstone.

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Eve Emshwiller's curator insight, March 30, 2013 11:34 PM

I'll need to read this one later.

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Acorns Helped Sustain Indigenous Groups

Acorns Helped Sustain Indigenous Groups | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
The indigenous people of California relied on acorns to sustain them, using the nuts for everything from basket weaving to basic nutrition.

Via Luigi Guarino
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

archaeological acorns were central not just in the California, but Japan, China, and parts of Europe and Turkey, at least into the Neolithic.

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Zhang Chi and Hsiao-chun Hung - Jiahu 1: earliest farmers beyond the Yangtze River

Zhang Chi and Hsiao-chun Hung - Jiahu 1: earliest farmers beyond the Yangtze River | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The authors summarise the latest evidence for the introduction of rice cultivation into northern China, and show that it most probably began there in the early seventh millennium BC as a result of influence or migration from the Yangtze Valley

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

I am too busy on other work to provide a full blog on this now, but I will in due course. Unfortunately this paper is highly mis-leading, and once again Jiahu is the centre of rather selective communication that claims to resolves the origins of rice agriculture but relies on a certain amount slight of hand that obscures  the actual data. First the paper slectively picks data from the ealiest levels from the Peking University excavations at Baligang together with the ragtag data from a couple of excavation campaings at Jiahu (in a different river valley). First, as to the photo seen here, these are storage pits and houses of the Third Millennium BC, Qiujialing/Shijiahe/Longshan period, which is the focus of that site. So the authors have selected misleading photo that has nothing to do with the few lower contexts from which the rice and acorn remains discussed in the paper come. The rice data, itself is unpbulished, but in this paper it relies on an student dissertation (a  very good) which focused on the Qiujialing/Shijiahe/Longshan and Yangshao period, which in a footnote mentioned some preliminary data on sikelet bases from the 7th millennium BC lower levels. That is actually a personal communication from me and Dr. Qin Ling, on the bais of a preliminary sort of one early sample after it came out of the ground in 2008. The very precise precentages given are prone to revisions once the full analysis of the lower levels are finished. In terms of using the data from Jiahu, there are three sets of archaeobotanical data which are mixed in this paper in selective way. First there is the 1999 monograph on earlier excavations, from which comments on rice and the presence of wild foods in quoted. Later informed comments and discussions of this material (such as Fuller et al 2007 in Antiquity, are carefully avoided, as they suggest this maerial is entirely consistent with wild rice gathering from a range of wild rice species or populations). In absence of spikelet bases from Jiahu we simply do not know how much of this rice might have been cultivated and how gathered wild: the grain morpholoigal diversity tends to point towards wild gathering at least some of this. Second, there are the only systematic samples, collected by wet-sieving by Zhao Zhijun. These rightly provided some quantified data on the present of rice versus other foods and some possible weeds. It should be noted that none of the weeds is exclusively diagnostic of either cultivation nor wet rice. (e.g. Digitaria is typically a dry millet weed, but does occur in early rice cultivation as well). Indeed this site shows rice as a co-staple with acorns and Trapa, much as we see in amongst early cultivators in the Yangtze. Zhao's grain metrics, largely overlap the small grains from the 1999 excavation report, but these too are left out. Third there are grain metrics from the later (2004) excavations.that came not through flotation but from hand collecting and coarse screening, which were published by Liu et al in The Holocene 2007 as a critique of the 1999 measurement. (Collection methods could bias these otwards large sizes.) This measurements are quoted here, but mis-quotes, as they actually show size reduction over time-- a trend more inline with wild rice adapting to changing climate than a domestication process. The problem is all these set of measurements are real and should be taken together. They indicate no clear trend in size change but instead a huge spread of metrical diversity. Unfortunately, apart from those readers who have been through the Chinese monogrpahs and dissertations and know the unpublished material from Baligang, this paper may well mislead as well as inform on the earliest rice farmers!

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Dorian Q Fuller's curator insight, March 3, 2013 6:20 AM

Another selective and incomplete use of the Jiahu data, coupled with contemporary Baligang, which is in a different river valley, and lacked enough ceramics reconsruct a single vessel. Is early Baliganag really the same culture at Jiahu? Is Baligang derived from a migration from the Yangtze as the authors contend? Is there even evidence that Jiahu is an immigrant farming culturwe from the Yangtze? No! There is no evidence really in favour of this, only a dogmatic belief tht rice should have a single centre of origin and dispersal by migration.

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We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us.

We Didn’t Domesticate Dogs. They Domesticated Us. | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
Early humans didn't adopt wolves to help them hunt, argue scientists. Instead, wolves made the first move toward friendship.
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Not a plant, true. But a key domesticate, and one in which suggested the importance of the unconcscious selection at work-- as I would guess was true of most crops.

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On the ‘lost’ crops of the neolithic Near East

On the ‘lost’ crops of the neolithic Near East | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

The claim that the ‘classic’ eight ‘founder crop’ package (einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, barley, lentil, pea, chickpea, bitter vetch, and flax) underlying the emergence of agriculture in the Near East is a relic of a larger number of domesticated species is addressed. The ‘lost’ crops concept relies on the idea that additional taxa were at certain points in time and in certain locations genuine crops, which were later abandoned. The issue is highly relevant to the debate concerning mono- versus polyphyletic domestication, because if there were numerous ‘false starts’ that were subsequently lost, this implies that plant domestication occurred over a protracted time period, and across a wide geographic range. ...

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This is meant to be a response to and critique of the protracted and diffuse paradigm of domestication that I and others have published on recently (including this this journal last year). I will offer a full blog in due course. But on first glance this paper offers nothing to dissuade me from my view. Its critique works in part by ingnoring the strongest cases of evidence for lost crop (2 grained einkorn and striate emmeroid wheat, both of which were important staples on sites in parts of the PPNB world as well as in Neolithic Europe), and in part by dismissing archaeobotanical evidence as somehone fundamentally mis-representative of past crops and agricultural systems. It is the denial of the archaeobotanical evidence and worth of archaeobotany as a material record of past crop plants and plant  associations (crops and weeds), that gets me the most agitated. Most of what is in their argument in dogma that insists on the singularity and rapidity of the agricultural revolution. I will hold further comments for the archaeobotanist blog when time allows.

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differences highlight migration and subsistence changes in the Upper Mun River Valley, Thailand

differences highlight migration and subsistence changes in the Upper Mun River Valley, Thailand | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

 Dietary isotopes show increased reliance on C3 crops from the end of the Neolithic. ► This coincides with an increase in social differentiation in terms of mortuary wealth at the site. ► Oxygen isotopes show drier environmental conditions in the Iron Age. ► Climate change correlates with a decrease in reliance on C3 crops. 

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This isotopic evidence indicates a significant C4 dietary contribution to the population bured at Ban Non Wot (with major fish contributions unlikely due to its inland location) with some increase towards more C3 (e.g. rice)  only from the Bronze Age. This seems to give extra weight to Weber's finding of only foxtial millet and not rice in the early phases of the  Khao Wong Prachan valley elsewhere in Thailand. Was the spread of millet more fundamental than rice is starting agriculture in parts of southeast Asia?

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A Systematic Treatment of Fruit Types

A Systematic Treatment of Fruit Types | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
Abstract, introduction to fruit terminology, classification of fruit types, definitions of fruit terms.
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Spjut monograph get used in my lan and is introudced to all my practicsl course students as the authoritative source on fruit type structures and terminology. So I am pleased to find there is an on-line version (linked to various photos) that I can refer students to.

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Differentiation of Neotropical Ecosystems by Modern Soil Phytolith Assemblages and its Implications for Palaeoenvironmental and Archaeolo...

► We analyzed modern phytolith assemblages from ten different vegetation types ► Study plots in tropical forest and savannah ecosystems of the Bolivian Amazon ► Major ecosystems are clearly distinguished by phytolith frequencies and PCA ► Benefits of integrating phytolith with stable carbon-isotope and pollen data ► Aids interpretation of palaeoenvironmental records and past human impacts

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Used planet: A global history

Used planet: A global history | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Human use of land has transformed ecosystem pattern and process across most of the terrestrial biosphere, a global change often described as historically recent and potentially catastrophic for both humanity and the biosphere. Interdisciplinary paleoecological, archaeological, and historical studies challenge this view, indicating that land use has been extensive and sustained for millennia in some regions and that recent trends may represent as much a recovery as an acceleration. Here we synthesize recent scientific evidence and theory on the emergence, history, and future of land use as a process transforming the Earth System and use this to explain why relatively small human populations likely caused widespread and profound ecological changes more than 3,000 y ago, whereas the largest and wealthiest human populations in history are using less arable land per person every decade. Contrasting two spatially explicit global reconstructions of land-use history shows that reconstructions incorporating adaptive changes in land-use systems over time, including land-use intensification, offer a more spatially detailed and plausible assessment of our planet's history, with a biosphere and perhaps even climate long ago affected by humans. Although land-use processes are now shifting rapidly from historical patterns in both type and scale, integrative global land-use models that incorporate dynamic adaptations in human–environment relationships help to advance our understanding of both past and future land-use changes, including their sustainability and potential global effects.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A working synthesis of the long-term pattern of human land use via spiralling cycles of intensification and regime shift, which means we have progressively supported more populations with less land area per capita. This has implications for thinking about where we go from here and for Ruddiman hypothesis that we have been slowly adding to 'natural' greenhouse gases throughout the Holocene and especially the last few millennia. For archaeologists, I regard this a battlecry: we need more big macro-regional databases that integrate the archaeological data for population and landuse. The KK10 model for past landcover which is in this paper (the best available at present) is not good enough; it can only be improved with more empirical data from archaeology and palaeoenvironmental sciences!

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Dorian Q Fuller's comment, April 29, 2013 4:13 PM
should be read alongside Ruddiman's recent "Anthropocene" review (http://sco.lt/7fULYn)
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New study finds genetically modified crops won't feed world; biodiversity is key

New study finds genetically modified crops won't feed world; biodiversity is key | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development concludes that genetically modified (GM) crops have little use when it c
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UC research on Maya village uncovers 'invisible' crops, unexpected agriculture

UC research on Maya village uncovers 'invisible' crops, unexpected agriculture | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
The research on the well-preserved plant remains found in a Maya village that was destroyed by a volcano's fury will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Via Eve Emshwiller
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Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy - Volume 24, Issue 1 - The Neolithic of Arabia – New Paradigms and Future Perspectives -special issue

Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy - Volume 24, Issue 1 - The Neolithic of Arabia – New Paradigms and Future Perspectives -special issue | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Towards new paradigms: multiple pathways for the Arabian Neolithic

The shell middens of Las Bela coast and the Indus delta (Arabian Sea, Pakistan) (pages 9–14)

Thoughts on nomadism in Middle Holocene Oman (pages 15–27)

Back to Fasad… and the PPNB controversy. Questioning a Levantine origin for Arabian Early Holocene projectile points technology (pages 28–36)

Considering marine transgression as a mechanism for enforced migration and the littoral Gulf ʿUbaid phenomenon (pages 37–43)

Neolithic settlement of the eastern Yemen Plateau: an exploration of locational choice and land use (pages 44–50)

Khamseen rock shelter and the Late Palaeolithic-Neolithic transition in Dhofar (pages 51–58)

Considering the Arabian Neolithic through a reconstitution of interregional obsidian distribution patterns in the region (pages 59–67)

The Neolithic in Arabia: a view from the south (pages 68–72)

Neolithic material cultures of Oman and the Gulf seashores from 5500–4500 BCE (pages 73–78)

Soft hammerstone percussion use in bidirectional blade-tool production at Acila 36 and in bifacial knapping at Shagra (Qatar)

Understanding the evolution of the Holocene Pluvial Phase and its impact on Neolithic populations in south-east Arabia (pages 87–94)

Tabula rasa or refugia? Using genetic data to assess the peopling of Arabia (pages 95–101)

The Neolithic period in the Central Region of the Emirate of Sharjah (UAE) (pages 102–108)

Hailat Araka and the South Arabian Neolithic (pages 109–117)

 

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A special issue on Neolithic arabia. not a lot of archaeobotany, but important evidence on the trajectory in the region that focused first on domesticated fauna, more specialized pastoralism and then much later crop cultivation (based on Near Eastern crops). The general trajectory with late sedentism and crops parallels that of the West African sahel and south India.

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diana buja's curator insight, April 24, 2013 9:21 AM
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A special issue on Neolithic arabia. not a lot of archaeobotany, but important evidence on the trajectory in the region that focused first on domesticated fauna, more specialized pastoralism and then much later crop cultivation (based on Near Eastern crops). The general trajectory with late sedentism and crops parallels that of the West African sahel and south India.

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Dialogue of Civilizations Opens: Maya Leaders, Bird With Pig’s-Head Wings, More

Dialogue of Civilizations Opens: Maya Leaders, Bird With Pig’s-Head Wings, More | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it
Three days of discussion among archaeologists studying five ancient cultures around the world kicks off with best wishes from a modern Maya leader and revelations about a strange artifact from ancient China.
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

I am in Guatemala putting in my archaeobotanical two cents on the comparative study of early civilizations. Sponsered in part by National geographic, it makes a mention on their news watch.

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Using archaeogenomic and computational approaches to unravel the history of local adaptation in crops

Using archaeogenomic and computational approaches to unravel the history of local adaptation in crops | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Robin Allaby (University of Warwick) will give the final seminar in the Term II Institute Research Seminar series on ancient DNA at the Institute on 18 March.

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On the trail of Neolithic mice and men towards Transcaucasia: zooarchaeological clues from Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) - Cucchi - 2013

On the trail of Neolithic mice and men towards Transcaucasia: zooarchaeological clues from Nakhchivan (Azerbaijan) - Cucchi - 2013 | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

Transcaucasia comprises a key region for understanding the history of both the hybrid zone between house mouse lineages and the dispersal of the Neolithic way of life outside its Near Eastern cradle. The opportunity to document the colonization history of both men and mice in Transcaucasia was made possible by the discovery of mouse remains accumulated in pits from a 6000-year-old farming village in the Nakhchivan (Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan). The present study investigated their taxonomy and most likely dispersal path through the identification of the Mus lineage to which they might belong using a geometric morphometric approach of dental traits distances between archaeological and modern populations of the different Mus lineages of South-West Asia. We demonstrate that the mouse remains trapped in the deep storage pits of the dwelling belong to the Mus musculus domesticus from the Near East, with dental shapes similar to current populations in Northern Syria. These results strongly suggest that the domesticus lineage was dispersed into Transcaucasia from the upper Euphrates valley by Neolithic migration, some time between the 7th and 5th millennium BC, providing substantial evidence to back up the scenario featuring near-eastern stimuli in the emergence of agriculture in the South Caucasus. The domesticus mitochondrial DNA signature of the current house mouse in the same location 5000 years later, as well as their turnover towards a subspecies musculus/castaneus phenotype, suggests that early domesticus colonizers hybridized with a latermusculus (and maybe castaneus) dispersal originating from south of the Caspian Sea and/or Northern Caucasia.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

The house mouse is a commensal thatr should track the spread of farmers and their crop stores. This study early Neolithic mice from Azerbaijan indicates that their source lies to the southwest in thwe Upper Euphrates region. So too does the source of mice on Neolithyic Cyprus. This points to this region as being important for the integration of the Neolithic package and its onward dispersal.

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AgroAtlas - Introduction

AgroAtlas - Introduction | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

 The AgroAtlas Project began in 2003. Three Russian and an American agency collaborated on the Atlas. The St. Petersburg State University  Geography Department was the lead institute, preparing environmental maps, developing the GIS software, and coordinating the overall project. The  N. I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry prepared maps illustrating where crops have been historically grown, and the geographic distribution maps of wild species that are related to crop species. The All-Russian Institute of Plant Protection prepared maps showing the geographic distribution of crop diseases, insect pests and weeds. The project was funded by the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, and Office of International Research Programs. The project was administrated by the International Science and Technology Center.

Each map represents a compilation of information obtained from scientific research journals, scholarly publications, and biological collections of seeds, plants and insects. Details on how individual maps were drawn along with a reference list can be found in a metadata description. Each map is accompanied by a detailed description of the organism, a photograph or drawing and a list of references used. The full DVD containing a standalone version of the complete Atlas can be downloaded. Individual GIS layers can be downloaded by accessing the desired species/environmental attributes on the website.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

This web resource includes useful introductory infomration pages on a wide range of crops and weeds that grow across Russia, i.e. much of temperate Asia.

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Evidence for maize (Zea mays) in the Late Archaic (3000 to 1800 B.C.) in the Norte Chico region of Peru

Evidence for maize (Zea mays) in the Late Archaic (3000 to 1800 B.C.) in the Norte Chico region of Peru | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

For more than 40 y, there has been an active discussion over the presence and economic importance of maize (Zea mays) during the Late Archaic period (3000–1800 B.C.) in ancient Peru. The evidence for Late Archaic maize has been limited, leading to the interpretation that it was present but used primarily for ceremonial purposes. Archaeological testing at a number of sites in the Norte Chico region of the north central coast provides a broad range of empirical data on the production, processing, and consumption of maize. New data drawn from coprolites, pollen records, and stone tool residues, combined with 126 radiocarbon dates, demonstrate that maize was widely grown, intensively processed, and constituted a primary component of the diet throughout the period from 3000 to 1800 B.C.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A larger scale screening of pollen and starch grains from grinding stones and coprolites providing strong evidence that maize cultivation and consumption was widespread in the Late Archaeic of central coastal Peru. However, macro-remains have so far been scarce, with only about 10 instances reported. This raises an interesting question over whether the processing of maize, e.g. by deseeding and disposal of cobs off-site before storage, may be biasing on-site archaeobotany against macros, which is why a combined approach with multiple micro-botanical approaches is important.

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Journal of Arid Environments - Comment on “Burrough, S.E., Breman, E., and Dodd, C., 2012. Can phytoliths provide an insight into past vegetation of the Middle Kalahari paleolak...

Journal of Arid Environments - Comment on “Burrough, S.E., Breman, E., and Dodd, C., 2012. Can phytoliths provide an insight into past vegetation of the Middle Kalahari paleolak... | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

This is a comment on the article of Burrough et al. (2012) in which they present a palaeoclimatic reconstruction based on phytolith assemblages from sandy shoreline deposits in the Makgadikgadi Basin, Botswana. While this work highlights a potentially important paleoenvironmental archive in a notably data-poor region, there are several fundamental short-comings in the Burrough et al. work in terms of the calibration of their findings with plant distributions and ecology. Not recognising these limitations in their article, the authors apply palaeoenvironmental indices that are regionally inappropriate, and which we argue in turn render their paleoenvironmental interpretations invalid. With no regionally specific reference collection being established, it may be the misidentification of phytolith morphotypes that has created the paradox that is posed by Burrough et al.

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

Ouch! A very clear example of the danger of misapplying an analytical method, in this case a climatic phytolith index, in a region different from the one in which it was developed. It also demostrates the importance of local/regional reference collections.

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The Seed Biology Place - Seed Evolution

'The Seed Biology Place' - Website Gerhard Leubner seed biology lab: seed germination, dormancy, after-ripening, ß-1,3-glucanase, endosperm weakening, seed technology, hormones, reactive oxygen,...
Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

a very useful introduction on seed evolution

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Citrus ID: Home

Citrus ID: Home | Archaeobotany and Domestication | Scoop.it

This tool is designed to support the identification of host material during citrus pest and disease surveys...

Dorian Q Fuller's insight:

A wonderful photogallery for identification of living Citrus material (and related fruit like Bael).

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