Jun 24, 2009 | 5
Archeologists have uncovered surprisingly sophisticated grain storage that predates plant domestication.
An excavation site near the Dead Sea in Jordan has revealed an 11,000-year-old granary, which even had elevated floors to prevent rodent pilfering and to increase air circulation.
The stone and mud building was capped with a wattle roof (branches or reeds woven around poles) was about 9.8 feet (3 meters) in diameter. The findings, reported earlier this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal wild barley as one of the ancient building's contents. Two nearby structures also appear to have been used for food and grain processing.
People in the Early Natufian period (15,000 to 12,800 years ago) were fairly sedentary but appear to have depended largely on the day-to-day availability of wild plants and animals for food, rather than food stores. But by 11,000 years ago, people seem to have made great strides, building silos and these more complex granaries.
Mar 5, 2009
It's pretty hard to milk a wild mare. So researchers attempting to determine whether ancient Botai in northern Kazakhstan had domesticated horses tested their pottery for evidence that they were as fond as their modern descendants of mare's milk (you can see [left] a modern mare being milked by a Kazakh woman). Their finding, published today in Science: they were—pushing horse domestication to at least 5,500 years ago.
Archaeologist Alan Outram of the University of Exeter in England and his colleagues tested Botai cooking vessels and found clear evidence of mare's milk in nine of them. This constitutes strong proof of domestication, according to geochemist Rosemary Capo of the University of Pittsburgh, who analyzed samples from another Botai site known as Krasnyi Yar, because wild horses don't typically tolerate milking.
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