Stone Age Britons imported wheat in shock sign of sophistication

Mar 10, 2015

By Alister Doyle

Stone Age Britons imported wheat about 8,000 years ago in a surprising sign of sophistication for primitive hunter-gatherers long viewed as isolated from European agriculture, a study showed on Thursday.

British scientists found traces of wheat DNA in a Stone Age site off the south coast of England near the Isle of Wight, giving an unexpected sign of contact between ancient hunter-gatherers and farmers who eventually replaced them.

The wheat DNA was dated to 8,000 years ago, 2,000 years before Stone Age people in mainland Britain started growing cereals and 400 years before farming reached what is now northern Germany or France, they wrote in the journal Science.

“We were surprised to find wheat,” co-author Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick told Reuters of finds at Bouldnor Cliff.

“This is a smoking gun of cultural interaction,” between primitive hunter-gatherers in Britain and farmers in Europe, he said of the findings in the journal Science.

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2 comments on “Stone Age Britons imported wheat in shock sign of sophistication

  • Possibly more important might be what were they using the wheat for?

    There’s a theory that grain crops were originally domesticated not for food supplies, as obviously happened for farmed animals, but as a bulk raw material for whisky and beer production. Use of grains for food being a byproduct of brewing and distilling.
    So the traditional role of alcoholic beverages in British naval history may extend 8000 years prior to what has previously been assumed. One of the most important commodities demanded by primitive hunter gatherers encountered by colonial explorers in the last few centuries was alcohol. Possibly all primitive hunter gatherers are very interested in means of obtaining alcohol.

    And apparently the existence of beer and whisky is also possibly the most convincing scientific evidence supporting the existence of god. This may explain some primitive hunter gather tribes’ ready acceptance of European colonial religious conversion, via missionaries. Ironically this situation was then immediately contradicted missionary opposition to the availability of alcohol. No wonder so many indigenous populations resent colonialism.

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    Light Wave says:

    It doesn’t seem like the Brits imported wheat at all….more like the first farmers arrived to raise cattle….and plant wheat. – ‘import’…suggests the people had a taste for wheat and they actively sought out foreign supplies to bring to britain…It really wasn’t like that 8000 years ago in UK – the british people were hunter gatherers, fishers and herders and the farmers immigrated here by boat to settle and bring agriculture….wheat was not native to western europe…so obviously they had to bring it….but there was native cattle on Britain 7500 years ago when the lands at the edge of western europe became an Island… the great flood of doggerland…

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