Plant: From Nature to Culture

Plants or parts of plants have always played a crucial role in our alimentation.

For Paleolithic cultures, which were characterized by a subsistence strategy of hunting and collecting, the seasonally changing offer of nature had to be sufficient. People ate besides hunted animals also edible leaves or other nontoxic parts of plants.

Around 10,000 years ago people in the West Asian steppe found out that they could eat the grains of certain species of wild grasses. They looked especially for grass plants with particularly big and floury grains. At some point they started seeding the remaining grains in order to harvest more comfortably nearby their shelters. This had far-reaching consequences, characteristic for the late Neolithic Age and the transition to the producing subsistence strategy of crop cultivation and later of livestock breeding. The continuous breed selection of increasingly high-yielding plants and their selective cultivation gradually changed the wild grasses – they turned into crop plants. The oldest cultivated crop plant is barley.

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