BRITAIN – When archaeological evidence showed proofs of wheat DNA submerged in the sediments off the Isle of Wight without revealing any trace of wheat pollen, scientists were convinced that early people of Britain at wheat that were possibly planted elsewhere in Europe, and considering the fact that the people of mainland Europe were farmers while the British ancestors were hunters and fruit gatherers, researchers believe they must have only ate wheat imported from their neighbors.
And this was some 8,000 years ago. This study also indicated that early farmers in those ancient times had closer contact with the hunter-gatherers of Europe than previously known.
Published Thursday in the journal Science, scientists state agricultural practices commenced in the Balkans of Europe some 9,000 years ago and then spread west until it finally got to mainland Britain some 6,000 years ago.
According to Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick, evidence of wheat DNA found in the soil without any trace of wheat pollen indicates that wheat was only eaten on the area but never planted there at all.
“In the absence of direct evidence, we suspect that this wheat represents food stuffs imported from the continent,” they authors said.
However, considering the 400-year gap that existed between the commencement of farming in close-by Europe and the age of the soil that contained the wheat DNA, scientists believe that earlier agrarian sites must have been swallowed in southern Europe.
Furthermore, the scientists found about 81% of wheat DNA in the 8 cm top soil of the area where the wheat DNA was found, while 81% were discovered in the lower or second half – meaning that the importation of wheat into the region was gradual and grew over time.
“The strength of the study lies not only with the empirical evidence, but also in the careful consideration and refutation of myriad ways in which the wheat DNA signatures could be the result of false positives or contamination,” said Greger Larson, an archaeologist at the University of Oxford, who was not involved in the research.
Larson also added that the early evidence of wheat in ancient Britain ought to “force a rethinking of both the strength of the relationships between early farmers and hunter gatherers, and the origins of settled agricultural communities in Europe.”