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Dawn of Agriculture
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Bulgaria archaeologists made a unique finding of the prehistoric times near the Ohoden village, the Bulgarian National Radio reported on Friday.
The find is a rare agriculture tool, which is made of volcanic material. The material was used as a flint by the inhabitants on the Bulgarian lands in that age.

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Potatoes
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Molecular studies recently revealed new genetic information concerning the long-disputed origin of the European potato. Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of La Laguna, and the International Potato Centre used genetic markers to prove that the remnants of the earliest known landraces of the European potato are of Andean and Chilean origin. They report their findings in the May-June 2007 issue of Crop Science.
European potatoes, the cultivated potatoes first appearing in Europe and later spreading worldwide, were first recorded outside of the Americas in 1567 on the Canary Islands Archipelago. Today, scientists believe that the remnant landraces of these early potatoes still grow in on the Canary Islands.
For years, researchers have debated the birthplace of the European potato. While some scientists hypothesised that landrace introductions originated in the Andes, others believed that the introductions came from Chile. While there are multiple lines of evidence to support each theory, the Andean introduction hypothesis stems from the belief that the Canary Islands landraces are solely of Andean origin. Although almost all current European potatoes have Chilean traits, the Andean hypothesis supposed that these potatoes arose from crosses with Chilean potatoes as breeding stock after the Irish potato famine in the 1840s.
Using molecular markers, the scientists found that the Canary Island landraces possessed both Andean and Chilean types, as well as possible hybrids of the two.

In combination with other historical, molecular, agronomic, and crossing data, these findings support a hypothesis of multiple early introductions of both Andean and Chilean germplasm to the Canary Islands and to Europe - Dr. David Spooner, co-author of the Crop Science study.

Spooner and others speculate that the early European potato was selected from Chilean introductions before the 1840s because they were better able to reproduce in long-day conditions, in contrast to Andean potatoes that were short-day adapted.

The results of these studies are of interest not only to evolutionists but also for breeders. Years of effort were made to artificially recreate the European potato from Andean landraces yet it may have originated from Chile.  If the true origin of the European potato was from Chile, rather from the Andes, it shows the value of plant evolutionary studies to understand and complement breeding programs - Dr. David Spooner.

Spooner and other scientists now plan to further investigate the origin of the European potato from DNA extracted from herbarium specimens of cultivated potatoes collected in Europe before 1845.

The results of these studies are providing data to rewrite the history of the cultivated potato and will aid breeders to better interpret the true pedigrees of our modern potato - Dr. David Spooner.

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Grapes
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A pair of ancient mutations in the genes that give grapes their red colour gave rise to the first white varieties more than 3,000 years ago, Australian scientists have found.
The discovery could give scientists the tools they need to play with grapes' colours and may perhaps lead to entirely new kinds of wine.
Researchers have long known that white wine has ancient origins - residue of white wine was found in the tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. But studies have shown that the ancestors of all modern grapes were red, and Mandy Walker, a research scientist from the CSIRO Plant Industry laboratories in Adelaide, South Australia, conducted an investigation to determine how the change occurred.

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RE: Dawn of Agriculture
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Credit for taming the wild chili pepper belongs not to the ancestors of the mighty Inca or the advanced Maya civilizations, but to people living in the tropical lowlands, according to Canadian researchers.
Three University of Calgary researchers and a team of colleagues from the United States and Venezuela have traced the earliest known evidence of domestication of the spicy pepper to seven sites, the oldest dating back 6,100 years.

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A new study suggests that barley may have undergone domestication twice, a finding with important implications for understanding the spread of farming.
Archaeologists have long debated whether the so-called founder crops of the agricultural revolution--including wheat and barley--were domesticated once or multiple times. The record is ambiguous. Over the past decades, they have unearthed the earliest remains of domesticated barley at sites in the Fertile Crescent that date back 10,500 years. But there is also evidence for barley cultivation about 9000 years ago at sites further east in Central Asia.

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Farming in India started much before than is generally believed. Experts in the fields of archaeology and history said this while shedding light on earliest history of India, Indian culture and other aspects at the annual joint conference of the Indian Archaeological Society, Indian Society for Prehistoric and Quaternary Studies and the Indian History and Culture Society, which was organised here at Jiwaji University on Sunday.
Professor VD Mishra said that new researches have revealed that agricultural practices in India started in Mesolithic period (6-7,000 BC), much before the Neolithic period (4000 BC) as is generally believed.

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Archaeobotanists have found evidence that the dawn of agriculture may have come with the domestication of fig trees in the Near East some 11,400 years ago, roughly a thousand years before such staples as wheat, barley, and legumes were domesticated in the region. The discovery dates domesticated figs to a period some 5,000 years earlier than previously thought, making the fruit trees the oldest known domesticated crop.

Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University and Mordechai E. Kislev and Anat Hartmann of Bar-Ilan University report their findings in this week's issue of the journal Science.

The researchers found nine small figs and 313 fig drupelets (a small part of an aggregate fruit such as a fig) at Gilgal I, a village in the Lower Jordan Valley, just 8 miles north of ancient Jericho, known to have been inhabited for some 200 years before being abandoned roughly 11,200 years ago. The carbonised figs were not distorted, suggesting that they may have been dried for human consumption. Similar fig drupelets were found at a second site located some 1.5 kilometres west of Gilgal.

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