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Friday, June 26, 2009

Study: Food storage began well before farming

Study: Food storage began well before farming


WASHINGTON – People were storing grain long before they learned to
domesticate crops, a new study indicates. A structure used as a food
granary discovered in recent excavations in Jordan dates to about
11,300 years ago, according to a report in Tuesday's edition of
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


That's as much as a thousand years before people in the Middle East
domesticated grain, the research team led by anthropologist Ian Kuijt
of the University of Notre Dame said.


Remains of wild barley were found in the structure, indicating that
the grain was collected and saved even though formal cultivation had
not yet developed.


The granary was between two other structures used for grain processing
and residences, discovered in excavations at Dhra', near the Dead Sea.
The granary was round with walls of stone and mud. The researchers
said it had a raised floor for air circulation and protection from
rodents.


The ability to store food is essential for the development of farming,
the researchers said.


"The granaries represent a critical evolutionary shift in the
relationship between people and plant foods, which precedes the
emergence of domestication and large-scale sedentary communities by at
least 1,000 years," they reported.


The research was funded by the British Academy, the Council for
British Research in the Levant, the U.S. National Science Foundation
and the University of Notre Dame.
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