3 February 2023 The Future is the Product of the Past

7,000 years ago the earliest evidence for the cultivation of a fruit tree came from the Jordan valley

Tel Aviv University and Jerusalem’s Hebrew University researchers have unraveled the earliest evidence for the domestication of a fruit tree.

According to the researchers, the first domestication of fruit trees anywhere in the world took place in the Jordan Valley about 7,000 years ago.

Analyzing remnants of charcoal from the Chalcolithic site of Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley, researchers determined they came from olive trees. Since olive trees did not grow naturally in the Jordan Valley, this means the inhabitants of the site must have planted the trees intentionally about 7,000 years ago, said the researchers.

The study was led by Dr. Dafna Langgut of the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archaeology & Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University. The charcoal remnants were found in the archaeological excavation directed by Professor Yosef Garfinkel of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

7,000 years-old microscopic remains of charred olive wood (Olea) recovered from Tel Tsaf. Photo: Dr. Dafna Langgut
7,000 years-old microscopic remains of charred olive wood (Olea) recovered from Tel Tsaf. Photo: Dr. Dafna Langgut

Dr. Dafna Langgut, head of Tel Aviv’s Laboratory of Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments, which specializes in microscopic identification of plant remains, said it was possible to identify trees by their anatomic structure even if they had been burned down to charcoal.

“Wood was the ‘plastic’ of the ancient world,” said Dr. Dafna Langgut.

“It was used for construction, for making tools and furniture, and as a source of energy. That’s why identifying tree remnants found at archaeological sites, such as charcoal from hearths, is a key to understanding what kinds of trees grew in the natural environment at the time, and when humans began to cultivate fruit trees.”

Langgut’s analysis of the charcoal from Tel Tsaf found locally native trees, but also olive and fig.

Buildings and rounded siloes at the village of Tel Tsaf. Photo: YOSEF GARFINKEL

“Olive trees grow in the wild in the land of Israel, but they do not grow in the Jordan Valley,” she said. “This means that someone brought them there intentionally — took the knowledge and the plant itself to a place that is outside of its natural habitat.”

“In archaeobotany, this is considered indisputable proof of domestication, which means that we have here the earliest evidence of the olive’s domestication anywhere in the world.”

7,000 years-old hearth remains at the village of Tel Tsaf. Photo: YOSEF GARFINKEL
7,000 years-old hearth remains at the village of Tel Tsaf. Photo: YOSEF GARFINKEL

The tree remnants examined by Dr. Langgut were collected by Prof. Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University, who headed the dig at Tel Tsaf Prof. Garfinkel says that “Tel Tsaf was a large prehistoric village in the middle Jordan Valley south of Beit She’an, inhabited between 7,200 and 6,700 years ago. Large houses with courtyards were discovered at the site, each with several granaries for storing crops. Storage capacities were up to 20 times greater than any single family’s calorie consumption, so clearly these were caches for storing great wealth. The wealth of the village was manifested in the production of elaborate pottery, painted with remarkable skill. In addition, we found articles brought from afar: pottery of the Ubaid culture from Mesopotamia, obsidian from Anatolia, a copper awl from the Caucasus, and more.”

According to a joint university press release, Langgut and Garfinkel were not surprised to learn that the residents of Tel Tsaf were the first in the world to intentionally grow olive and fig trees, because growing fruit trees is a sign of wealth, and this site is known to have been exceptionally wealthy.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10743-6

Scientific Reports

Cover Photo: Ayvalik olive harvest, Türkiye.

Banner
Related Post

Archeologists find a 3,500-year-old mosaic in central Turkey

16 September 2021

16 September 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a 3,500-year-old mosaic in central Turkey, which might be one of the world’s oldest. The impressive power...

1800-year-old marble inscription found in Turkey’s Aigai excavations deciphered

2 October 2022

2 October 2022

The 1800-year-old inscription, consisting of 3 pieces of marble, found in the excavations in the ancient city of Aigai in...

Gold coin hoard discovered in a cup beneath a North Yorkshire kitchen floor is being auctioned off

7 September 2022

7 September 2022

A couple in North Yorkshire found an early 18th-century gold coin hoard buried under the floorboards of their kitchen. The...

Four-face ivory dice found at Keezhadi excavation site in India

18 February 2022

18 February 2022

The Tamil Nadu Archaeological department along with the Archaeological Survey of India has unearthed rectangular ivory dice,  in the excavation...

Ceremonial cave site from Postclassic Maya period discovered in Yucatán Peninsula

21 December 2021

21 December 2021

Archaeologists have discovered a ceremonial cave site in Chemuyil on the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, that dates from the Postclassic Maya...

Unique work of Minoan art, the Pylos Combat Agate must be the David of the Prehistoric era

21 November 2021

21 November 2021

Found in a Greek tomb dating back 3,500 years, the artifact is so well designed that it looks as lively...

Thousands of Ancient Tombs Discovered in Xian

23 February 2021

23 February 2021

According to the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Institute, more than 4,600 ancient cultural remains were discovered during the expansion project of...

Maltaş Temple Revealed

10 August 2021

10 August 2021

Phrygian Valley, 10 meters high monument with Phrygian scriptures inscriptions on it discovered. The unearthed Maltaş monument is actually the...

Archaeologists discover a 4,000-year-old stone board game in Oman

10 January 2022

10 January 2022

The joint Polish-Omani archaeology team has discovered a 4,000-year-old stone board game whilst excavating a Bronze Age and Iron Age...

Archaeologists have unearthed an incredible hoard of over 300 Iron Age ‘potins’ in West London

17 July 2021

17 July 2021

Archaeologists at an HS2 construction site in Hillingdon, West London discovered an astonishing treasure of over 300 Iron Age ‘potins”....

Collectors In The Prehistoric World Recycled Old Stone Tools To Preserve The Memory Of Their Ancestors

16 March 2022

16 March 2022

A first-of-its-kind study at Tel Aviv University asks what drove prehistoric humans to collect and recycle flint tools that had...

Unsolvable Megalithic Mystery of ancient Greek “Dragon Houses”

4 July 2022

4 July 2022

The Dragon Houses of Euboea, which probably dates to the Preclassical period of ancient Greece, are one of the historical...

According to new research, medieval warhorses were shockingly diminutive in height

12 January 2022

12 January 2022

Medieval warhorses are often depicted as massive and powerful beasts, but in reality, many were no more than pony-sized by...

An Urartian female executive grave was found at the Çavuştepe Mound

9 September 2021

9 September 2021

The grave of an Urartian, who was buried with his horse, cattle, and dog, had been found recently. Today, another...

Google Earth Helped Archaeologists Make İmportant Discoveries in Leicestershire

26 April 2021

26 April 2021

After Google Earth revealed traces of underground structures, archaeologists digging at a Roman settlement in Leicestershire say they have made...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *