A new study has found that prehistoric hunter-gatherers in Europe likely traded for wheat – according to submerged DNA. The findings stemmed from a hunter-gatherer camp that existed off the British coast. Impressively, this means that the very wheat that was being farmed far west of these areas – were making their way to this region.
This is important for a lot of reasons, but chiefly, this centers around the fact that archeologists have battled for decades over the timetable of when farming actually began – and this would put the start of that timetable some 2,000 years before it actually began.
Previous research had pointed to farming making a slow move across Europe over the course of thousands of years. However, this new piece of information and the new findings clean up a lot of the archeological questions that were previously had. The findings came at Bouldnor Cliff, which is located 11 meters below the surface of the water and was found over a decade ago in 1999.
The team was led by Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Analyzing DNA from that many years ago though obviously comes with challenges. The team recovered and sequenced genetic material that was found in the sediments that were recovered and ultimately this is how the team came to the conclusions they came to. This though is not a unique technique, as it’s one of the most-frequently practiced techniques for analyzing material from that long ago.
However, with the limited number of potential outcomes in terms of what this finding means – this is only going to spur more research on farming and how it spread, how quickly it spread, and what other theories around this subject might actually need to be tested. The findings that were made today ultimately will drive eventual research on farming globally, and determine how it worked throughout Europe.