The beginning of agriculture is one of the most important developments in human history, with enormous consequences that paved the way for settled life and complex society. Much of the research on the origins of agriculture over the last 40 years has been guided by Flannery's [Flannery, K. V. (1969) in The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals, eds. Ucko, P. J. & Dimbleby, G. W. (Duckworth, London), pp. 73-100] "broad spectrum revolution" (BSR) hypothesis, which posits that the transition to farming in southwest Asia entailed a period during which foragers broadened their resource base to encompass a wide array of foods that were previously ignored in an attempt to overcome food shortages. Although these resources undoubtedly included plants, nearly all BSR hypothesis-inspired research has focused on animals because of a dearth of Upper Paleolithic archaeobotanical assemblages. Now, however, a collection of >90,000 plant remains, recently recovered from the Stone Age site Ohalo II (23,000 B.P.), Israel, offers insights into the plant foods of the late Upper Paleolithic. The staple foods of this assemblage were wild grasses, pushing back the dietary shift to grains some 10,000 years earlier than previously recognized. Besides the cereals (wild wheat and barley), small-grained grasses made up a large component of the assemblage, indicating that the BSR in the Levant was even broader than originally conceived, encompassing what would have been low-ranked plant foods. Over the next 15,000 years small-grained grasses were gradually replaced by the cereals and ultimately disappeared from the Levantine diet.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 29 Jun 2004|
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