A novel morphometric method for differentiating wild and domesticated barley through intra-rachis measurements

Ainit Snir, Ehud Weiss

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9 Scopus citations


The main methods used for determining whether cereal remains from archaeological site were domesticated or not are based on the type of rachis scars and grain size. However, both ways suffer from uncertainties, and more reliable methods are in need. In this work we suggest such a novel differentiating method. We developed two statistical equations, one for unburned and one for burned (charred) wild (Hordeum spontaneum) and domesticated (Hordeum disticum) barley triplets. These equations are based on clearly measurable characteristics of the upper scars of triplets from modern barley populations. The equations yield the probability (P) that a triplet is from a domesticated variety. Using different batches of barley collected in Israel, it was confirmed that at P>0.8 and P>0.7 for unburned and charred triplets, respectively, domesticated barley was correctly identified at a certainty of >99%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Avichai Snir for generating equations (1) and (2 ), for his statistical analyses and consultations, Yoel Melamed for critical advice, Jacob Manisterski from the Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement (ICCI), George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University and Yair Nishri from the Ministry of Agriculture for providing the accessions of domesticated cereals and Sven Beer and Ezra Tepper for editorial help. This work is part of a Ph.D. dissertation conducted in Bar-Ilan University. This project was generously supported by The Israel Science Foundation (Grant no. 711/08 to E.W.).


  • Distribution unit
  • Domestication
  • Hordeum
  • Identification method
  • Morphometrics
  • Rough scar
  • Smooth scar


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