A joint study by Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has found the first domestication of fruit trees, suggesting that horticulture of olive and fig trees was practiced 7,000 years ago in the central valley of the Jordan, Israel.
The study based its findings on analysis of charcoal remains from the Charcolithic site of Tel Zaf in the Jordan Valley, proving they came from olive trees, which did not grow there naturally, according to the statement. Tel Aviv University press.
They were able to identify the trees by their anatomical structure although they were reduced to charcoal.
“Olive trees grow wild in the land of Israel, but they don’t grow in the Jordan Valley,” said Dr. Dafna Langgut, head of Tel Aviv’s Archaeobotany and Ancient Environments Laboratory and who led the study, to The Times of Israel newspaper. .
“It means 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 first evidence of domestication of the olive tree in the world.”
Langgut also found remains of branches belonging to the fig tree, which grew naturally in the Jordan Valley.
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As the fig tree had little value for firewood or making tools or furniture, she concluded that the branches resulted from pruning, a method still used today to increase the yield of a fruit tree. .
Researchers weren’t surprised to find that the people of Tel Tsaf were the first in the world to intentionally cultivate olive and fig trees, because cultivating fruit trees is a proof of luxury, and this site is known to have been exceptionally wealthy, the coeducational university said in the press release.
(With agency contributions)
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