Rewriting Biblical history? Agriculture might be 5,000 years older than believed.
A new find suggests farmers in Bible lands built channels for irrigation long before historians thought they did, allowing for cultivated vineyards, olives, wheat and barley.
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The third layer corresponds to the late Byzantine and early Islamic period, when people were known to practice agriculture in this area, he added.Skip to next paragraph
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Bruins is currently submitting his research to a peer-reviewed scientific journal; it hasn't yet been published.
Graeme Barker, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, said that without having a peer-reviewed paper, it's difficult to tell how important the finding may be. However, if the research does indeed prove that agriculture has been practiced in the area since 5000 B.C., that finding would be "great, and important."
A lot of archaeological work has been conducted in the area, but analysis of stones and pottery has limitations when it comes to agriculture, Bruins said. "There is widespread evidence of ancient floodwater farming in the southern Levant in the form of drystone walls across and along wadis (valleys), but whilst there is an enormous literature about the likely periods of the past to which they belong, most of this is speculative… and in principle, examples of floodwater farming structures could date anywhere in time from the Neolithic to the 20th century," Barker wrote in an email to LiveScience.
These desert peoples used walls and ditches to collect rainwater during the area's infrequent rainfalls. Later inhabitants of the area, known as the Nabataeans, are known for their skill at collecting and conserving rainwater, which allowed them to establish and run a thriving trade route through the area before the arrival of the Romans, who eventually displaced the Nabataeans, Bruins said.
Ancient farms, like those in the region today, likely cultivated vineyards, olives, wheat and barley, he said.
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Editor's Note: This story was generated during a trip paid for by American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
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