The Origins of Agriculture and Crop Domestication

Table of Contents

Proceedings of the Harlan Symposium
10-14 May 1997
Aleppo, Syria

Edited by

A.B. Damania
J. Valkoun
G. Willcox
C.O. Qualset


International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Genetic Resources Conservation Program, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California (UC/GRCP)

Published jointly by ICARDA, IPGRI, FAO and UC/GRCP

© 1998 International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)

Report No. 21 of the Genetic Resources Conservation Program, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California.

ICARDA, IPGRI, FAO and GRCP encourage the fair use of the material contained in this volume. Proper citation is requested.

Citation: Damania, A.B., J. Valkoun, G. Willcox and C.O. Qualset (Eds.) 1998. The Origins of Agriculture and Crop Domestication. ICARDA, Aleppo, Syria, xi + 345 pp.

ISBN: 92-9127-084-9

Front cover: Observing wild progenitors in their natural habitat. Inset: Water wheel, Hama, Syria.

Back cover: Top, staircase at Ebla, Syria, ca. 3800 BP. Bottom, Grinding saddle stones from ca. 3800 BP site at Ebla, Syria. Inset: Ancient figurine depicting dough-kneading.

AGROVOC descriptors: Aegilops; Hordeum spontaneum; Hordeum vulgare; rye; Triticum aestivum; Triticum dicoccum; Triticum monococcum; Triticum dicoccoides; Triticum spelta; Lathyrus; Lens culinaris; Vicia faba; Pisum sativum; Vicia sativa; Papaver sominiferum; pistachios; cereals; legumes; barley; hard wheat; soft wheat; faba beans; peas; Gossypium; cotton; olives; sesame; safflower; fruit crops; Amygdalus; Cornus; Prunus; Celtis; Vitis; history; domestication; agriculture; landraces; wild plants; plant physiology; plant anatomy; botany; diversity; genetic resources; germplasm conservation; adaptation; climatic change; vegetation; Middle East; Mediterranean countries; Armenia.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), University of California, Genetic Resources Conservation Program (UC/GRCP) or Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Similarly, the views expressed are those of authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these participating organizations or editors.

Distributor for West Asia and North Africa:
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Phone: +963-21-2225112
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Distributor for rest of the world:
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Email: or

Table of Contents

About ICARDA and the CGIAR




Distribution of Agricultural Origins: A Global Perspective - J.R. Harlan

Part 1. Centers of Origins of Crop Plants and Agriculture

Back to Vavilov: Why Were Plants Domesticated in Some Areas and Not in Others? - J.G. Hawkes
Vavilov's Theories of Crop Domestication in the Ancient Mediterranean Area - A.A. Filatenko, A. Diederichsen and K. Hammer
Archaeobotanical Evidence for the Beginnings of Agriculture in Southwest Asia - G. Willcox
Syrian Origins of Safflower Production: New Discoveries in the Agrarian Prehistory of the Habur Basin - J. McCorriston

Part 2. Near Eastern Crop Diversity and its Global Migration

Diversity of Major Cultivated Plants Domesticated in the Near East - A.B. Damania
The Spread of Neolithic Agriculture from the Levant to Western Central Asia - D.R. Harris
The Spread of Agriculture to the Eastern Arc of the Fertile Crescent: Food for the Herders - F. Hole
Early History of Sesame Cultivation in the Near East and Beyond - D. Bedigian
Grain Legumes: Evidence of these Important Ancient Food Resources from Early Pre-agrarian and Agrarian Sites in Southwest Asia - A. Butler

Part 3. Archaeobotanical Evidence for Agricultural Transitions

Identifying Pre-domestication Cultivation Using Multivariate Analysis - S. Colledge
Pre-Pottery Neolithic A and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Lithic Agricultural Tools on the Middle Euphrates: The Sites of Tell Mureybit and Tell Halula - J.J. Ibáñez, J.E. González, A. Palomo and A. Ferrer
History of Harvesting and Threshing Techniques for Cereals in the Prehistoric Near East - P.C. Anderson
Problems in Correlating Pollen Diagrams of the Near East: A Preliminary Report - R.T.J. Cappers, S. Bottema and H. Woldring
Investigations of Botanical Remains from Nevali Çori PPNB, Turkey: A Short Interim Report - R. Pasternak
Crop Water Availability from a Pre-Pottery Neolithic Site on the Euphrates, Determined by Carbon Isotope Discrimination of Seeds - J.L. Araus, A. Febrero, M. Catalá, M. Molist, I. Romagosa and J. Voltas

Part 4. Domestication of Crop Plants

Use of Historical and Archaeological Information in Lentil Improvement Today - W. Erskine
What Can Molecular Markers Tell Us about the Process of Domestication in Common Bean? - Paul Gepts
On the Origin and In Statu Nascendi Domestication of Rye and Barley: A Review - V. Jaaska
Plant-Gathering Versus Plant Domestication: An Ethnobotanical Focus on Leafy Plants - F. Ertug
Origins and Domestication of Mediterranean Olive Determined through RAPD Marker Analyses - G. Besnard, A. Moukhli, H. Sommerlatte, H. Hosseinpour, M. Tersac, P. Villemur, F. Dosba and A. Bervillé

Part 5. Historical Aspects and Crop Evolution

Genetic Evidence on the Origin of Triticum aestivum L. - J. Dvorák, M.-C. Luo and Z.-L. Yang
Introgression of Durum into Wild Emmer and the Agricultural Origin Question - M.A. Blumler
The Variation of Grain Characters in Diploid and Tetraploid Hulled Wheats and its Relevance for the Archaeological Record - K. Hammer and C.-E. Specht
Utilization of Ancient Tetraploid Wheat Species for Drought Tolerance in Durum Wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) - A. Al Hakimi and P. Monneveux
Archaeobotanical Evidence for Evolution of Cultivated Wheat and Barley in Armenia - P.A. Gandilian
Extinction Threat of Wild African Gossypium species in their Center of Diversity - V. Holubec

Part 6. Conservation of Wild Progenitors

Current Geographical Distribution and Habitat of Wild Wheats and Barley - J. Valkoun, J. Giles Waines and J. Konopka
In situ Conservation of Wild Relatives of Crop Plants in Relation to their History - J. Giles Waines
Domestication of Cereal Crop Plants and In situ Conservation of their Genetic Resources in the Fertile Crescent - A.B. Damania

Summary and Recommendations

Jack R. Harlan (1917-1998) - Plant Explorer, Archaeobotanist, Geneticist and Plant Breeder - O. Qualset


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