Harvest techniques: Hand-pulling and its potential impact on the archaeobotanical record vis a vis near eastern plant domestication

Shahal Abbo*, Simcha Lev-Yadun, Avi Gopher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

A “cultivation prior to domestication”, or a “pre-domestication cultivation” phase features in many reconstructions of Near Eastern plant domestication. Archaeobotanists who accept this notion search for evidence to support the assumption regarding a wild plant’s cultivation phase, which in their view, preceded and eventually led to plant domestication. The presence of non-crop plant remains in the archaeobotanical record interpreted as arable weeds, i.e., weeds of cultivation, is viewed as a strong argument in support of the pre-domestication cultivation phase. Herein, we show that the simple practice of harvest by hand-pulling (uprooting) has the potential to secure an almost weed-free harvest. Indeed, rather clean (weed-free) Neolithic seed caches from a range of relevant sites were documented in archaeobotanical reports. These reports, alongside ethnographic observations suggest that (in certain cases) ancient harvest may have been carried out by selective hand-pulling. Hence, one has no reason to view archaeobotanical assemblages from occupation sites as fully representative of cultivated fields. Therefore, the concept of “arable—pre-domestication weeds”, its logic, and its potential contribution to the prevailing reconstructions of Near Eastern plant domestication need be reconsidered.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1215
JournalAgronomy
Volume11
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords

  • Arable weeds
  • Neolithic Near East
  • Plant domestication
  • Pre-domestication cultivation

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