Does the proportion of shattering vs. non-shattering cereal remains in archeobotanical assemblages reflect Near Eastern Neolithic arable fields?

Shahal Abbo*, Zvi Peleg, Simcha Lev-Yadun, Avi Gopher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

A protracted domestication time-frame for cereals in the Near East is widely endorsed by the plant domestication research community. This occurs in tandem with the pre-domestication cultivation concept, which rests on the assumption that human husbandry operations (namely cultivation) exerted selection pressures in favor of domesticated phenotypes (e.g., non-shattering spikes) at the expense of the wild type (WT) shattering phenotype. The protracted domestication model rests on a long series of assumptions of which we address only two: (1) that the archeobotanical assemblages found in Neolithic occupation sites are representative of the managed plant populations from the cultivated fields; (2) that WT (shattering, brittle spikes) and domesticated (non-shattering, non-brittle spikes) stocks were grown for millennia as admixed populations across the Near East before the domesticated (non-shattering) morphotype slowly came to dominate the managed cereal populations. Scrutinizing these assumptions, and their derivatives, we suggest that the proportion of wild vs. domesticated cereal remains in archeobotanical assemblages cannot possibly represent the presumed cultivated plant populations. Moreover, agronomic considerations expose severe methodological and theoretical drawbacks in the protracted domestication reconstruction vis-à-vis the proportions of shattering vs. non-shattering spikelets in archeobotanical assemblages.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number104339
JournalReview of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Volume284
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Brittle rachis spike
  • Domestication models
  • Pre-domestication cultivation
  • Protracted domestication

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