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The Domestication Dichotomy and Beyond

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“The knowledge of the origin of cultivated plants is interesting to agriculturists, to botanists, and even to historians and philosophers concerned with the dawnings of civilization”

The above opening line from Alphonse de Candolle’s (1885) English edition of Origin of Cultivated Plants still rings true today. To de Candolle’s list of practitioners interested in the origins of cultivated plants we can now add geneticists, linguists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and evolutionary biologists since Darwin, not to mention the general public. Indeed, developments and cumulative research in these areas are continually transforming our understandings of plant domestication and agricultural origins. This includes the growing interdisciplinary fields of archaeobotany and archaeogenetics, which, provided accurate chronology and contextualization, are uniquely poised to reconstruct the timings, settings and mechanisms of plant domestications. In recent years the value of this research has been popularized by works such as Diamond’s (1997) Guns, Germs and Steel, Harari’s (2015) Sapiens, and Graeber and Wengrow’s (2021) Dawn of Everything. For readers seeking more in-depth treatments of agricultural origins, Abbo and Gopher’s (2022a) Plant Domestication and the Origins of Agriculture in the Ancient Near East offers a critical, scholarly introduction to southwest Asian plant domestication. However, far from a dispassionate treatment, the book’s central motif is the defense of a particular stance in a raging debate.



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Journal of the Israel Prehistoric Society

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