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Natufian culture, circa 14,000 B.C.: pet foxes and.....WHEAT????

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created September 07, 2013 at 12:44 AM

Interesting article about how our ancestors semi-domesticated foxes. However, I noticed this little blurb about the 16,000-year-old Natufian culture described in the article:

"The burial ground is about 16,500 years old, meaning it dates back to just before the emergence of the Natufian culture, in which pioneers used wild cereals (such as wheat, barley and oats) in a practice that would eventually evolve into true farming."

Has anyone found any papers that truly substantiate this claim? Or is it similar to the previously-hyped "ancient grains discovery" that turned out to be non-grains like buckwheat?

REFERENCE:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/livescience/20110204/sc_livescience/prehistoriccemeteryrevealsmanandfoxwerepals

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 21, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Now you're being immature and petty

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 08, 2011
at 04:41 AM

Yep, I've seen some fascinating video of these foxes. It was onlyh about 7 generations of choosing the tamest foxes for breeding and they got foxes that act just like dogs. PLus the tamer genes also seem to correlate with genes for agouti and off coloring. They did not breed for color, only temperment, but the tamer foxes often had unusual colors as well. This was a problem as the goal was to breed fur coat foxes that were easier to handle. But the tamer foxes often did not have ideal coat color. They are only good as pets. Really cute pets!

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on February 08, 2011
at 01:24 AM

On the contrary...the foxes are quite exciting!

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 08, 2011
at 01:18 AM

Ancient Egypt had wheat, and tooth decay and heart disease and other diseases of civ. Doesn't make it healthy.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on February 07, 2011
at 07:21 PM

Wolf > fox ;)

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on February 07, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Very good point!

Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 07, 2011
at 06:29 PM

That would be pretty cool!

1471beca8e3adff4ae2f89d10e5f7acb

(6550)

on February 07, 2011
at 06:04 PM

All I know is I want a pet fox!

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7 Answers

3
Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on February 07, 2011
at 05:53 PM

This fits in with most of what I've read, namely that after 2.5 million years of evolution, farming and agriculture arrived on the scene about 10,000 years ago. That there might have been some "pre-farming" use of grains a relatively short time before that is not too surprising.

2
Medium avatar

on February 07, 2011
at 06:47 PM

It's important that we don't think of something like "wheat" as a monolithic, unchanging species. It wasn't the case surely, but even if emmer or einkorn were their primary staples, they wouldn't be anywhere near as bad as our high-gluten, low protein frankengrains.

Efc949694a31043bfce9ec86e8235cd7

(970)

on February 07, 2011
at 06:57 PM

Very good point!

2
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on February 07, 2011
at 05:57 PM

This is nothing particularly exciting; there's evidence of use of wild sorghum going back 84,000 years, IIRC. We'd been probably eating the wild ancestors of modern grains occasionally, not as major staples, for quite a while before we took up farming.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on February 08, 2011
at 01:24 AM

On the contrary...the foxes are quite exciting!

1
03281912f1cb9e4e771a8a83af302e3a

(1204)

on February 08, 2011
at 12:42 AM

There was a study in Russia 50 or 60 years ago where they bred the nice traits into a breed of fox, and bred out the wild. The domesticated foxes are still around. The videos I have seen, they might well be little dogs. Tame and happy, and their ears are no longer pointed! sibfox.com Apparently you can purchase them now?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 08, 2011
at 04:41 AM

Yep, I've seen some fascinating video of these foxes. It was onlyh about 7 generations of choosing the tamest foxes for breeding and they got foxes that act just like dogs. PLus the tamer genes also seem to correlate with genes for agouti and off coloring. They did not breed for color, only temperment, but the tamer foxes often had unusual colors as well. This was a problem as the goal was to breed fur coat foxes that were easier to handle. But the tamer foxes often did not have ideal coat color. They are only good as pets. Really cute pets!

1
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on February 08, 2011
at 12:28 AM

The Natufian culture existed in the Levant, around what is now Israel, Jordan and Syria. There is evidence for the use of wild cereal grains in that part of the world dating further back to 23,000 years ago. The following two papers are about an archaeological site in Israel called Ohalo II that was inhabited around 23,000 thousand years ago at the peak of the last ice age. It was then submerged under the waters of Lake Galilee perserving many plant remains that do not usually survive.

The broad spectrum revisited: Evidence from plant remains (2004).

"Now, however, a collection of >90,000 plant remains, recently recovered from the Stone Age site Ohalo II (23,000 B.P.), Israel, offers insights into the plant foods of the late Upper Paleolithic. The staple foods of this assemblage were wild grasses, pushing back the dietary shift to grains some 10,000 years earlier than previously recognized. Besides the cereals (wild wheat and barley), small-grained grasses made up a large component of the assemblage, indicating that the BSR in the Levant was even broader than originally conceived, encompassing what would have been low-ranked plant foods. Over the next 15,000 years small-grained grasses were gradually replaced by the cereals and ultimately disappeared from the Levantine diet."

Processing of wild cereal grains in the Upper Palaeolithic revealed by starch grain analysis (2004).

"Here we report the earliest direct evidence for human processing of grass seeds, including barley and possibly wheat, in the form of starch grains recovered from a ground stone artefact from the Upper Palaeolithic site of Ohalo II in Israel. Associated evidence for an oven-like hearth was also found at this site, suggesting that dough made from grain flour was baked. Our data indicate that routine processing of a selected group of wild cereals, combined with effective methods of cooking ground seeds, were practiced at least 12,000 years before their domestication in southwest Asia."

This is around the area of the fertile cresent, one of the areas that agriculture began so it is not really surprising that people had previously been used to using wild seeds for a long time.

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on February 08, 2011
at 04:56 AM

SOme people tolerate wheat better than others. I would not be surprised if some cultures a fairly long time ago found that if processed, grain that they probably grew for their animals could also be eaten by humans. I can imagine it now. YOu are hungry. Maybe a mountain lion just ate your cow or goat or whatever. But you have all this grain growing right there. YOu know the cow ate it but you can't eat it straight, but maybe if you ground it up, and you cooked it. Might not be so bad...if you were hungry. After a while, it might become a fallback food for when you couldn't find anything else. And you would gradually learn to prepare it to taste better. PLus this would be a much older simpler more natural form of wheat than is now used commercially. And since grain preparation was difficult and time consuming before machines were invented, it would not be a food of first choice. It would be a food you would fall back on when game was scarce and you couldn't find any fruits of veggies or tubers. So over time, there would be some genetic adaptation to consumption of the old forms of wheat.

But the poison is in the dose and the dose has shot up far faster than genetic adaptation could ever follow. Plus in the last 30 years, it's not just grain but grain oils, plus hydrogenated oils, plus ridiculous tons of sugar, and chemicals and hormones and pesticides. Plus many crops now are genetically modified with genes, some of which even come from animals. SO that plants will produce more lectins, which are poisonous to instects but also to humans. Somewhat ironic that for thousands of years, we probably tried to crossbreed and create crops that were tastier and had less poisons but now we are reversing that to create crops with more poisons, with taste falling onto the backburner compared to resistance to bruising, appearance, ability to ship, etc.

I am willing to bet if we all just ate a little bit of the same wheat our ancestors ate, and we all had to mill the stuff ourselves if we wanted to eat it, well I don't think so much wheat would get eaten in the first place and I don't think we would have all the problems we have. It's not just the wheat, but the kind of wheat, and the amount of wheat, and all the other junk that also is being eaten with the wheat. It all combines together.

0
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on February 07, 2011
at 07:26 PM

Doesn't make it healthy.

People have always experimented with stupid things, even poisons.

But perhaps an ancient low gluten non mutant dwarf variety, properly soaked sprouted and fermented, didn't poison them to the same level. Nor does it show percentage PF diet or how they reacted long term such as diseases of civ.

As for foxes, we have further bred and domesticated canines to be companions. Thorvin is the most awesome puppy I've ever met.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 21, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Now you're being immature and petty

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