Oldest crops in Africa from NE-Morocco

Our research at coastal sites of NE-Morocco has also included investigations of incipient agriculture in Northern Africa. since 2010

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, all sediment excavated from our site at Ifri Oudadane has been processed (flotated).

Read MoreThis has revealed an enormous amount of plant remains both from wild and domesticated species. Abundant remains of wild plants have been collected from both Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels, thus indicating the important role of these resources in these two periods.

From the beginning of the Early Neolithic domesticated plant species appear. These include predominantly cereals (Hordeum vulgare, Triticum monococcum/dicoccum, Triticum durum and Triticum aestivum/durum) and pulses (Lens culinaris and Pisum sativum). One lentil has been radiocarbon dated to 7611±37 calBP. As such, this is the oldest known date for domesticated plant remains in Morocco, and by extension the whole of Africa. The earliest cereal, a wheat grain (Triticum sp.), has been dated to 7063±73 calBP (Beta-318608).

The contemporaneity of radiocarbon ages made on domesticated plant species from Neolithic contexts in Morocco and sites on the Iberian Peninsula is suggestive of a more or less coeval dispersal of agriculture along both shores of the Western Mediterranean. The results from our investigations will be published in the very near future [J. Morales, G. Pérez-Jordà, L. Peña-Chocarro, L. Zapata, M. Ruíz-Alonso, J.A. López-Sáez and J. Linstädter, J. (in press), The origins of agriculture in North-West Africa: macro-botanical remains from Epipalaeolithic and Early Neolithic levels of Ifri Oudadane (Morocco). Journal of Archaeological Science].

 

C2 Linstaedter-3---Fig-1-lhk 250px
Flotation.
Photo: Jörg Linstädter
  C2 Linstaedter-3---Fig-2-lhk 250px Triticum aestivum/durum, free-threshing wheat, from Ifri Oudadane.
Photo: Jacob Morales

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RWTH Aachen University

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