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15 December 2016
Origins of cereal production traced back to Neolithic Syria

Before the escalation of the current war in Syria, back in 2009 and 2010, a combined team from the Spanish National Research Council and the Universities of Cantabria and the Basque Country (Spain), carried out some research, which has just been published, at a site close to the city of Sweida (As-Suwayda), known as Tell Qarassa North, in the southwest of the country, close to the border with Jordan.
     The research they carried out shows a high level of cereal production in the area, dating back to 9,000 BCE, the oldest evidence for the domestication of barley and wheat found so far. Analysis has shown that the crops being harvested at that time were in the early part of their evolution from wild seed to domesticated.
     One of the members of the Research Council explained that they were able to establish when the crops had been sown and harvested and how they had been converted into flour. Leader of the team, Juan Jose Ibanez, believes that cereal domestication proceeded at different speeds of development across the region, at the same time "It has yet to be discovered whether the later appearance of domesticated cereals in these regions was due to the use of those cereals, originating in the south of Syria, which we have been studying, or whether other independent domestication processes took place elsewhere".

Edited from EurekAlert! (5 December 2016)

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