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Early farmers took time to tame wheat

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11:15am, April 11, 2006

Domesticated varieties of wheat emerged gradually in the prehistoric Near East over a roughly 3,000-year span, a new investigation suggests.

Ken-ichi Tanno of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan, and George Willcox of the National Center for Scientific Research in Berrias, France, examined 804 wheat-ear remnants recovered at four ancient villages in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.

Wild and domesticated ears of wheat shatter at maturity in distinctive ways, so microscopic study can distinguish the two forms.

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