Farming legumes in the pre-pottery Neolithic: New discoveries from the site of Ahihud (Israel)

Valentina Caracuta, Jacob Vardi, Ytzhak Paz, Elisabetta Boaretto

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27 Scopus citations


New discoveries of legumes in the lower Galilee at the prehistoric site of Ahihud in Israel shed light on early farming systems in the southern Levant. Radiocarbon dating of twelve legumes from pits and floors indicate that the farming of legumes was practiced in southern Levant as early as 10.240-10.200 (1s) ago. The legumes were collected from pits and other domestic contexts dated to the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. The legumes identified include Vicia faba L. (faba bean), V. ervilia (bitter vetch), V. narbonensis (narbon vetch), Lens sp. (lentil), Pisum sp. (pea), Lathyrus inconspicuus (inconspicuous pea) and L. hirosolymitanus (Jerusalem vetchling). Comparison with coeval sites in the region show how the presence of peas, narbon vetches, inconspicuous peas, Jerusalem vetchlings and bitter vetches together with faba bean and lentils is unique to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, and might indicate specific patterns in farming or storing at the onset of agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0177859
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Weizmann Institute-Max Planck Gesellaschaft Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology “Timing of Cultural Changes” and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Samples were dated at the Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (D-REAMS), Weizmann Institute of Science. The Israel Antiquities Authority granted the permission to excavate the site (Authorization number 6663). The authors are grateful to Dr. Alon Singer, from the Israel Plant Gene Bank ARO Volcani Center,-Bet Dagan and the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)-Germany, for providing specimens of modern wild legumes for comparison. Special thanks to Dr. Eugenia Mintz and Dr. Lior Regev who assisted with the samples preparation and radiocarbon dating. All our appreciation to Prof. Steve Weiner from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, and Dr. John Kolinski from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel for their insightful comments on the early draft of the paper. The authors want to express their appreciation for the two editors and the five reviewers who commented on the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Caracuta et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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