How some people became farmers
This chapter shows how farming developed in Eurasia from increasingly intrusive plant management, which sometimes elicited rapid genetic responses from a few plants (especially cereals and pulses), coupled with a sudden climatic deterioration that removed many alternative food resources for human populations in the Near East. From 12,800-11,600 BP, the Younger Dryas Interval resulted in markedly cooler, drier conditions across much of Eurasia. Semi-sedentary hunter-gatherers in the Near East were forced to rely increasingly on the collection of wild cereals as other edible plants and all kinds of animals became much scarcer. The intense management of cereals like rye and barley favoured ‘domestication friendly’ mutations, such as large seed size and non-shattering seed heads. By 11,800 BP, the first domesticated rye variety was being cultivated in the Syrian village of Abu Hureyra. Over the next few millennia, domesticated versions of wheat, barley, and pulses were being grown across the Levant.
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