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28 June 2008
Oldest wheat found in Çatalhöyük

A series of DNA analyses conducted on ancient wheat samples have led scientists to conclude that the oldest known wheat was grown in Çatalhöyük, a Neolithic settlement in southern Anatolia (Turkey).
     Professor Mahinur Akkaya from the Middle East Technical University's (ODTÜ) department of chemistry says the world's oldest wheat found so far comes from Çatalhöyük, this according to a series of DNA analyses made on 8,500-year-old wheat samples. Akkaya and a group of professors from her university worked on the analyses. "While analyzing several wheat samples, we learned that Professor Gordon Hillman, an honorary professor of archaeobotany at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, had the world's oldest known wheat samples. We contacted him and he gave us a few kernels to analyze in comparison," she said. The analyses showed these samples to be 8,500 years old.
     Akkaya noted that they, as Turkish scientists, were happy to have undertaken such an important discovery about Anatolia. "A previous analysis carried out on 6,000-year-old wheat samples had shown that wheat was grown in southeastern Diyarbakır's Karacadağ area. Our discovery has gone beyond this finding," she remarked.

Source: Today's Zaman (20 June 2008)

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