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Wheat reached England before farming

Hunter-gatherers may have traded for agricultural products 8,000 years ago

2:00pm, February 26, 2015
wheat map

GRAIN TRAIN  Agriculture spread from what’s now Turkey along southern (purple arrow) and northern routes (yellow arrows) into Europe. DNA recovered from soil at the underwater site of Bouldnor Cliff indicates that wheat reached England at least 2,000 years before it was first grown there.

Hunter-gatherers living on England’s southern coast imported wheat 2,000 years before agriculture sprouted in the British Isles, a new study suggests.

This trading among hunter-gatherers and farmers laid the groundwork for agriculture’s spread across Northwest Europe, propose archaeogeneticist Oliver Smith of the University of Warwick in England and his colleagues. Until now, researchers have contended that migrating farmers rapidly sent European hunter-gatherers packing or gradually converted them to an agricultural lifestyle.

DNA extracted from soil at a roughly 8,000-year-old site called Bouldnor Cliff, now submerged off the Isle of Wight, matches that of wheat domesticated earlier in or near what’s now Turkey, the scientists report in the Feb. 27 Science. Farmers in Turkey had domesticated wheat and several other plants by 10,500 years ago. Crop growing started

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