Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 163–167 | Cite as

Searching for the origins of arable weeds in the Near East

Short Communication


This short note adds to earlier attempts at identifying arable weeds on late Pleistocene/early Holocene sites in the Near East. Nineteen potential arable weed taxa that have no known use were selected. The occurrence of these taxa at sites with morphologically wild cereals was compared to sites with morphologically domestic cereals. The presumed arable weed taxa were as common on three PPNA (Pre Pottery Neolithic A) sites without domestication as they were on Middle PPNB (Pre Pottery Neolithic B) sites with domestication, which lends support to arguments for pre-domestic cultivation at the former sites. Arable weed taxa were less common at Natufian sites but their presence raises the question of whether they originated in cultivated fields or were the ancestors of weeds gathered accidentally alongside wild cereals in their natural habitat.


Weeds Origins Near East Pre-domestic cultivation Domestication Agriculture 



Thanks to Sue Colledge for providing information on weed identifications from the Near East and for her work on potential arable weed assemblages. My gratitude to Gordon Hillman and Willem van Zeist who carried the pioneering work on identifying weed floras on early farming sites in the Near East.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archéorient, UMR 5133CNRS JalèsFrance

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