July 05, 2013

Early agriculture from Iran

A quite useful map from the press release of this paper:

The following map from an accompanying perspective is also quite interesting; "Dates in blue denote early cultivation of wild cereals" but "Ongoing excavations in central Anatolia and Cyprus are pushing dates back in these areas."

The issue of whether there was a single or (more likely multiple) areas of early agriculture is potentially important as it would imply that there were genetically differentiated (due to geographic distance) populations in the Neolithic womb of nations. In a global, or even a Eurasian context, these populations would be relatively genetically close, but not identical; it would be interesting to see to what extent present-day differentiation in the Near East reflects those early differences as opposed to more recent events.

Science 5 July 2013: Vol. 341 no. 6141 pp. 65-67

Emergence of Agriculture in the Foothills of the Zagros Mountains of Iran

Simone Riehl et al.

The role of Iran as a center of origin for domesticated cereals has long been debated. High stratigraphic resolution and rich archaeological remains at the aceramic Neolithic site of Chogha Golan (Ilam Province, present-day Iran) reveal a sequence ranging over 2200 years of cultivation of wild plants and the first appearance of domesticated-type species. The botanical record from Chogha Golan documents how the inhabitants of the site cultivated wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) and other wild progenitor species of modern crops, such as wild lentil and pea. Wild wheat species (Triticum spp.) are initially present at less than 10% of total plant species but increase to more than 20% during the last 300 years of the sequence. Around 9800 calendar years before the present, domesticated-type emmer appears. The archaeobotanical remains from Chogha Golan represent the earliest record of long-term plant management in Iran.



  1. why agriculture will start on mountains of zagarous and then go where the great water supply Euphretes is.
    Like the Arabic proverb that says "If you don't get ashamed, do what ever you want"

  2. The incorporation of the West Asian highlands (that is, the Zagro-Caspian chain, the Armenian Plateau and the Central Anatolian Plains) into the larger epicenter of agricultural civilization seems quite natural. I think it's beneficial to view the entire Near Eastern corridor as a kinetic hub of technological innovation and exchange rather than a single, fixed 'outburst'. Needless to say, this is interesting with respect to the expansion of sedentary lifestyle over Iran and into India, as well as across the Mediterranean. No other region provides a better geographical and climatic 'launching pad' for a majority of Eurasian populations. Nostrates- a womb of nations indeed.

  3. Because adversity makes for progress, and evolution, too.

  4. In the lower figure in the oval label S. Levant there is a a possible date of 23,000bp which jumped out at me.
    Do you know wehat this refers to?
    Thank you

  5. This paper is old news. I watched the 'Legacy' series in the 1990's and they already knew this. I feel this study is a repeat of known archeology. They also already sequenced 8000 year old remains in Germany. The remains were of farmers and they matched people from Turkey and further back to the Fertile Crescent and Iran. They headed towards India and Central Asia. They do know that all of these people are related through these farmers or Genographic does and did a study on it. The Fertile Crescent people did go into Europe and all Europeans are related to them. More in the south and less in the north of Europe. They mixed with the original hunter gathers and today it is seen in mtDNA and Y-DNA as well as autosomal DNA. It seems that Fertile Crescent farmer Y-DNA lineages won out and more than half of the males in Europe have these newer lines. Many men in Germany are finding out they have newer Y lineage and are not so related to the earlier hunter gathers as much as the Scandinavians are. They aren't related to the European Jewish people either. They are Europeans with Anatolian DNA that came from the Middle East and it's way up into northern central Europe. The Scandinavian countries and Ural mountain people on the European side have the old hunter gather lineages, but even they mixed with these new comers on autosomal DNA and deep ancestry. Women on the other hand are more than half related to the hunter gather female mtDNA lines. Meaning hunter gather women went with the farmers and you see this pattern today in Europe in the mtDNA and Y-DNA. They also made their way towards India and Central Asia. I think farming is much older than people think and there was a spread by genetics big time and it also popped up randomly elsewhere. I think it's both, but in Europe they already know it's not both. It's most likely not both in India and Central Asia. Genographic has articles on this and the farmers in Germany with the 8000 year old DNA they sequenced. They came from Turkey and before that, Iran. It goes way back in time to early farmers who came into Europe 8000 years ago from the Fertile Crescent. People from Iran and the whole Fertile Crescent left that area in a time when water salinity went up. They went to Europe and India as well as central Asia. I think they are pretty sure that farming spread to those places from Iran. They were the first civilizations in Sumer. Whether it went further than that genetically would be interesting to know... or did other people come up with the idea due to climate changes happening in other places? It's an interesting article that builds on things archeologists suspected and geneticists have proven. Further than central Eurasia or northern Africa is a unknown though... that for sure!

  6. "why agriculture will start on mountains of zagarous and then go where the great water supply Euphretes is."

    Too wet?

    I think before agriculture the places we now think of as the great fertile vallies may have been giant swamps or wetlands. It may have been only *after* farmers started digging drainage ditches that the land became farmable.

    If correct and the wetness in the vallies was less suitable for wild cereals like wild wheat then it would be found mostly higher up in places like Mount Karaca Dağ (or Gobekli Tepe?)

    If so then the first farmers might have started higher up where the wild wheat was and then later after domestication came down into the fertile valleys following along the *edges* of the great flood plains where it was easiest to drain.

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  8. And again, the Zagros mountain range is in spotlight. Interesting for me also, Ilam is a Kurdish province. ;)

  9. @skyes: If you read the abstract quoted in the post it says "Around 9800 calendar years before the present...", so BP.

  10. Guys here a research from South Asia which also finds evidences of early farming there starting from 10000+YBP.
    Good day.

  11. @jules

    You're referring to G2a3b1a. These guys didn't exactly win out by any stretch of the imagination. Either the earlier hunter-gatherer lineages won out, or subsequent migrations in the copper age or later gradually replaced both. These are the only two scenarios. I think it's also incorrect to assign agriculture to one single YDNA entity. Another possibility is that southern Europeans were neolithicized and used this new technology to expand to northern Europe.

  12. "Many men in Germany are finding out they have newer Y lineage and are not so related to the earlier hunter gathers as much as the Scandinavians are."

    Jules, that is true, all northern Europeans are a mix between ancient HGs, Neols and IEs. On the other hand, modern northern Europeans are a more or less distinct breed that evolved over thousands of years. It is not like ancient groups mixed and then evolution ended. The ancient groups contributed source material to later evolution. Germans may not be the most HG descended but that does not mean that they are not the most evolved, with the highest average IQs and the highest organisational capacity. Much of Europe now depends on German support.

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