Ancient figs may be first cultivated crop

June 2, 2006

Ancient figs unearthed at an archaeological site in the Jordan Valley may be the earliest cultivated fruit, U.S. and Israeli scientists say.

The figs, between 11,200 and 11,400 years old, are a variety that could only have been grown with human intervention, as they produced no fertile seeds, the journal Science reported Friday.

A team of two botanists and an archaeologist said the find could mark the point when humans turned from hunting and gathering to food cultivation.

Nine small figs and 313 smaller fig fragments were discovered in a house in an early Neolithic village, called Gilgal I, near Jericho in Israel's West Bank.

The researchers, from Harvard University and Israel's Bar-Ilan University, concluded that the figs were an early domestic crop rather than a wild breed, as they could only reproduce if a shoot were removed and replanted.

"In this intentional act of planting a specific variant of fig tree, we can see the beginnings of agriculture. This edible fig would not have survived if not for human intervention," the BBC quoted Harvard archaeologist Dr. Ofer Bar-Yosef as saying.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Cosmology in the lab using laser-cooled ions

Related Stories

Cosmology in the lab using laser-cooled ions

August 12, 2013

Scientists would love to know which forces created our universe some 14 billion years ago. How could – due to a breaking of symmetry – matter, and thus stars and galaxies, be created from an originally symmetrical universe ...

SPF on your plate

August 16, 2010

We all want that summer glow that comes from a day at the beach, but taking in the rays can have long-term implications for our health. Now Dr. Niva Shapira of Tel Aviv University's School of Health Professions suggests a ...

Hydrogen ions caught in the act of wandering

October 5, 2005

Erik T.J. Nibbering of the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI) and colleagues report for the first time experimental evidence of the motions of hydrogen ions (protons, H+) from acids ...

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.