A team of researchers believe they have found evidence of the earliest known attempts at agriculture cultivation by humans. This new evidence appears to prove that cultivation of agriculture began almost 11,000 years before previously believed.
The evidence was found in northern Israel along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. The excavation site is known as Ohalo II and was discovered in 1989. The site itself was well preserved despite being underwater until its discovery and dates back to the last Ice Age, according to new research published in Plos One.
The team looked for types of weeds that were only created after active human cultivation. They call these weeds "proto-weeds" and they were plentiful at this site. Two types of weeds found in particular are linked to more developed agriculture cultivation.
"We know what happened ecologically: that these wild plants, some time in history, became weeds. Why? The simple answer is that because humans changed the environment and created new ecological niches, that made it more comfortable for species that would become weeds, meaning they only have to compete with one species," said Ehud Gazit, head of the archaeological botany lab at the Department of Land of Israel Studies and professor at Tel Aviv University, according to The Guardian.
Evidence of early-stage domestic plants were also found. Some of these plants included wheat, barley, pea, lentil, almond, fig, grape and olive - none of which would have existed without preliminary attempts at agricultural harvesting in the area.They were also able to examine tools found at the site. From these tools, they found evidence of materials only present after cutting and harvesting cereal plants.
Grinding slabs and stone tools found at the site, along with starch granules left on scorched stone, point to flour production and breadmaking according to a press release.
It's obvious, as a result of this new evidence, that these people had a basic understanding of harvesting and cultivating agriculture.