7000-year-old evidence of fruit tree cultivation in the Jordan Valley, Israel

Dafna Langgut, Yosef Garfinkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study provides one of the earliest examples of fruit tree cultivation worldwide, demonstrating that olive (Olea europaea) and fig (Ficus carica) horticulture was practiced as early as 7000 years ago in the Central Jordan Valley, Israel. It is based on the anatomical identification of a charcoal assemblage recovered from the Chalcolithic (7200–6700 cal. BP) site of Tel Tsaf. Given the site’s location outside the wild olive’s natural habitat, the substantial presence of charred olive wood remains at the site constitutes a strong case for horticulture. Furthermore, the occurrence of young charred fig branches (most probably from pruning) may indicate that figs were cultivated too. One such branch was 14C dated, yielding an age of ca. 7000 cal. BP. We hypothesize that established horticulture contributed to more elaborate social contracts and institutions since olive oil, table olives, and dry figs were highly suitable for long-distance trade and taxation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7463
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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