Cereal cultivation and domestication as shown by microtexture analysis of sickle gloss through confocal microscopy

Publication date: September 2016
Source:Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 73
Author(s): Juan José Ibáñez, Patricia C. Anderson, Jesús González-Urquijo, Juan Gibaja
When and where cereal cultivation and domestication took place in the Near East are still matters of debate. This quantitative analysis, using confocal microscopy to study “sickle gloss” texture on flint tools used for cereal harvesting, shows that wild cereals were most probably cultivated during the 13th millennium BP in the Middle Euphrates. At that moment, a local and continuous process of cereal domestication began to unfold in this region of the Northern Levant, lasting for over 3 millennia and culminating at the end of the 10th millennium BP. Thus, our research provides a new method for investigating the origins of agriculture, while the data gathered allow us to support the hypothesis of early cereal cultivation during the Younger Dryas and the protracted model of plant domestication, pointing to the Middle Euphrates as one region where this process occurred.