New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops

New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops

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by Paul E. Minnis

Over many millennia, farmers across the world have domesticated literally thousands of species and developed tens of thousands of varieties of these plants. Despite the astonishing agricultural diversity that existed long ago, the world’s current food base has narrowed to a dangerous level. By studying the long and dynamic history of farming in the ancient past, archaeology can play a part in helping ensure the stability of the human food supply by identifying once-important crops and showing where and how such crops were grown in the past. Thanks to this work, extinct crops might even be redomesticated from their wild progenitors.

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