Evidence of ancient barley domestication was doscovered.
Photo: Yoni Reif
New findings by Israeli researchers shows evidence that barley was cultivated in the Jordan Valley (south of Beit She’an) and Upper Galilee areas as early as 6,000 years ago.
The findings were published Monday in scientific journal Nature Genetics, and show that the region was among the places in which the agricultural revolution occurred.
The discoveries were enabled by a first-of-its-kind genetic mapping of prehistoric barley grains, originating from the Chalcolithic period (also known as the Copper Age, about 6,000 years ago). This is one of the oldest plant gene sets to have been restored to date.
The researchers behind the project are Professor Ehud Weiss of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University and Professor Tzion Fahima of the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa.
“This is a (new to the world discovery),” explains Prof. Weiss, “There are the findings themselves, of course, but in addition we found that Israel is the place where barley was domesticated. That’s a very important point, because that means hunter-gatherers who lived here went ant took the Tavor barley – the mother of barleys – and today we know for certain that this happened here.”