The Eight Founding Crops of Domesticated Agriculture

Circa 9000 to 8000 BCE
Spikes (ears) of cultivated emmer wheat
Spikes (ears) of cultivated emmer wheat


Between 9000 and 8000 BCE the eight so-called founder crops of domesticated agriculture were domesticated by early Holocene (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B) farming communities in the Fertile Crescent region of the Middle East, incorporating Ancient Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. The founder crops included flax, three cereals and four pulses (legumes). Together they formed the basis of systematic agriculture in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Persia and (later) Europe. 

First emmer wheat and einkorn wheat were domesticated, then hulled barley, peas, lentils, bitter vetch (an ancient grain legume crop), chick peas and flax. These eight crops occur more or less simultaneously on Pre-Pottery Neolithic B sites in the Levant, although the consensus is that wheat was the first to be sown and harvested on a significant scale.

(This entry was last revised on 04-30-2014.)

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