Harvest experiments of wild crop relatives are essential for our understanding of the biology of wild plants embodied in the economy of ancient forager communities. Most of the previous experimental harvest reports spanned a single season and therefore are unable to address questions concerning long-term yield potential. Herein we report on six consecutive harvest seasons taking place at four sites in Israel that harbour wild pea populations: three typical Pisum fulvum sites and one typical P isum elatius site. Three out of the four sites showed no indication of a decline in grain yield as a result of repeated harvest and the removal of a considerable portion of mature seeds. Site-specific factors seem to have a strong influence on the grain yield as no seasonal yield similarity was observed between adjacent and ecologically similar sites harbouring the same wild pea taxon. The erratic year-to-year wild pea yield we observed calls for a reassessment of the presumed role of grain legume species in Near Eastern hunter-gatherers' diet. Combined with published data on cultivation of wild pea, our results are inconsistent with models suggesting protracted domestication of Near Eastern grain legumes or with the preliminary attempts to apply Niche Construction Theory to the study of plant domestication in the Near East.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors are indebted to Professor Gideon Ladizinsky for many years of learning. Partial support for this work was provided through the Israel Science Foundation, Bikurah grant No. 1406/05 .
- Neolithic revolution
- Niche construction
- Pisum sp.