Monday, August 27, 2018

Wheat in ancient world

The ancient wheats have been recognized as a primary component of the human diet in the Old World during the Bronze and Neolithic ages. Wheat is thought to have originated in southwestern Asia, it has been consumed as a food for more than 12,000 years. Archeological findings show that wheat first occurred in parts of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, the Levant, Israel, Egypt and Ethiopia.

Cultivation of wheat began to spread beyond the Fertile Crescent after about 8000 BC. Wild grasses resembling wheat in various degrees have been found in many parts of the world. On southwestern Europe and in Asia Minor grows Triticum aegilopoides, a wild grass which might be a parent of one species of wheat, einkorn.

Einkorn wheat (Triticum monococcum) was one of the first crops domesticated approximately 12,000 years ago in the Near East, alongside emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccum). Typically, einkorn was cultivated on marginal agricultural land, being able to survive in harsh environments and poor soils where other species of wheat could not survive.

Wheat was the cereal of choice for its bread making properties. Varieties of bread wheat became more common, and overtime bread became commercially available. There is evidence in Athens from the fourth century BC, in Rome from the second. Bread was normally made at home.

The early Egyptians were developers of bread and with the use of oven technology, developed baking into one of the first large-scale food production industries. By 3000 BC, wheat had reached England, and Scandinavia.

Wheat played an important role of religious significance and was part of the sacred rituals of many cultures. Greek, Roman, Sumerian and Finnish mythology had gods and goddesses of wheat. This exceptionally nutritious grain is still considered to be sacred in some areas of China.

The important of cereal in the diet throughout the Roman is confirmed by the Prices Edict (issued by Roman Emperor Diocletian in year 301 AD), which gives first place to wheat, followed by other crops. Wheat was not native to the Western Hemisphere and was only introduced here in the late 15th century when Columbus came to the New World.

Ancient wheats have lower yields and are more difficult to process than common wheat, which is why they gradually disappeared or were preserved only in small areas in Poland and Europe.
Wheat in ancient world
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