Evidence of early cultivation around the globe

October 24, 2017

Two recent articles published in the journal Vegetation History & Archaeobotany, which caught my attention as an Associate Editor, explore early cultivation in Argentina and Czech Republic:

  • Lopez (2017) examine macro-botanical remains from 16 archaeological sites in Argentina and concludes that the transition from foraging to cultivation commenced around 1000 years ago.
  • Dreslerová et al. (2017) looked an charred macrofossil remains from 84 archaeological sites in the Czech Republic to think about how early farmers selected the crops they grew.

The paper by Lopez (2017) and Dreslerová et al. (2017) both explore archaeological sites and evidence for cultivation at these sites. In the Argentinian study occupation at the sites began around 7,400 years ago, with the oldest abundant archaeobotanical remains appearing around 3,000 years ago. These archaeobotanical remains suggest that plant cultivation was adopted not adopted until c. 1,500 years ago. In contrast the evidence of cultivation in the Chech Reublic study show that cultivation began c. 7,500 years ago with the arrival new peoples bringing technology and ideas into the region. The spread and development of agricultural practices and the cultivation of crops around the world is, of course, complex (e.g. Diamond, 2002) the evidence from these types of studies in very different parts of the world provide key insights into this process that allow us to gradually piece together how people have expanded their modification of ecosystems.


  • Diamond, J. (2002) Evolution, consequences and future of plant and animal domestication. Nature 418, 700-707. DOI: 10.1038/nature01019
  • Dreslerová, D., Kočár, P., Chuman, T. & Pokorná, A. (2017) Cultivation with deliberation: Cereals and their growing conditions in prehistory. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 26, 513-526.DOI: 10.1007/s00334-017-0609-z
  • Lopez, M.L. (2017) Archaeobotany in central Argentina: Macro- and microscopic remains at several archaeological sites from early Late Holocene to early colonial times (3,000-250 BP). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany. DOI: 10.1007/s00334-017-0627-x


  1. In addition, here is a recent paper in PhilTrans on the early domestication of cereals in the Near East, suggesting initial selection began in the Late Pleistocene.


  2. In addition, this recent paper in PhilTrans discusses early domestication of cereals in the Near East, suggesting initial selection started during the Late Pleistocene.


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