The onset of faba bean farming in the Southern Levant

Valentina Caracuta, Omry Barzilai, Hamudi Khalaily, Ianir Milevski, Yitzhak Paz, Jacob Vardi, Lior Regev, Elisabetta Boaretto

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Even though the faba bean (Vicia faba L.) is among the most ubiquitously cultivated crops, very little is known about its origins. Here, we report discoveries of charred faba beans from three adjacent Neolithic sites in the lower Galilee region, in the southern Levant, that offer new insights into the early history of this species. Biometric measurements, radiocarbon dating and stable carbon isotope analyses of the archaeological remains, supported by experiments on modern material, date the earliest farming of this crop to ∼10,200 cal BP. The large quantity of faba beans found in these adjacent sites indicates intensive production of faba beans in the region that can only have been achieved by planting non-dormant seeds. Selection of mutant-non-dormant stock suggests that the domestication of the crop occurred as early as the 11 th millennium cal BP. Plant domestication| Vicia faba L.| Pre-Pottery Neolithic B| radiocarbon dating| Δ13 C analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14370
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 13 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Max Planck-Weizmann Center for Integrative Archaeology and Anthropology “Timing of Cultural Changes”, The Exilarch Foundation for the Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer and the Israel Antiquities Authority. We thank Prof. Ehud Weiss for collaborating on the identification of material from Nahal Zippori 3, Prof. Steve Weiner and Prof. Girolamo Fiorentino and Yotam Asscher for comments, Eugenia Mintz for preparing samples for 14C dating. Samples were dated at the Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer D-REAMS, Weizmann Institute of Science.


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