A recent study says tests run on the oldest human remains ever recorded found evidence of farming which implies the vital activity could have had multiple origins. The study was carried out by a group of international researchers, and the paper was published on-line in Science on July 14, 2016.

The researching team ran a series of genetic tests on human remains found in the Zagros region in Iran. The results of the studies showed that these primitive humans had a diet based on cereal which is a reliable indicator of farming. In contrast, similar analysis ran on neighboring species usually, report diets based on plants or meat. Until now, the origins of agriculture were traced to a group of people that lived in Western Anatolia, also known as the “Linear Pottery Culture”.

As seen above, a set of cooking and eating utensils used by human population from the Neolithic period. Image Credit: Wikipedia
As seen above, a set of cooking and eating utensils used by human population from the Neolithic period. Image Credit: Wikipedia

It was thought they were the ancestors of the people that developed farming and took it to Europe. However, the tests ran on Iranian Zoroastrians indicate they are not the Anatolian’s ancestors, they separated from the European hunters and gatherers and had more in common with present Pakistani and Afghans.

They also lived in the zone known as the Fertile Crescent, or the Cradle of Humanity, but it seems they were the ones to take farming to Asia and not to Europe. This throws the theory that a single group of genius people invented agriculture, overboard.

There is a zone known as the cradle of humanity in Western Asia

The Fertile Crescent is a region of fertile soil that expands through Western Asia, a territory known for being hostile, and includes The Nile River Valley and Delta. In a map, it looks like a crescent, hence the name. The first evidence of farming comes from this part of the world where scientists believe humanity as we know it was “invented.”

The study shows there is an enormous genetic difference between the recently found Iranian farmer in comparison with the Anatolians/Europeans and the Levantines all of which were identified in different studies. As a result, the speculation of who were the first farmers got a little more complicated. Some specialists claim the activity was first invented in the Levant because the oldest farming tools ever in the world were found there.

However, the corresponding author of the paper, Joachim Burger, says that farming was just too good to pass by it, so every time one of these communities moved from one place to another, they introduced their techniques to the people there. The analysis indicated that the Iranian farmers’ ancestors are separated from the other two groups by thousands of years which further supports the multiple origins theory.

“We sequenced Early Neolithic genomes from the Zagros region of Iran (eastern Fertile Crescent), where some of the earliest evidence for farming is found, and identify a previously uncharacterized population that is neither ancestral to the first European farmers nor has contributed significantly to the ancestry of modern Europeans,” reads the paper.

Source: Science