Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 117–129 | Cite as

Crop introduction and accelerated island evolution: archaeobotanical evidence from ‘Ais Yiorkis and Pre-Pottery Neolithic Cyprus

  • Leilani Lucas
  • Sue Colledge
  • Alan Simmons
  • Dorian Q. Fuller
Original Article


Charred plant remains from the Cypriot Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Krittou Marottou ‘Ais Yiorkis, situated in the foothills of the Troödos Mountains and dated to ca. 7500 cal. b.c., demonstrate the early introduction of two-grained einkorn (Triticum monococcum sensu lato). Grain measurements of two-grained einkorn from ‘Ais Yiorkis are compared to those from Aceramic and early Neolithic sites elsewhere in Cyprus, in northern Syria and central Europe. The grains appear to be larger than domestic grains of a later date from the Levantine mainland. Recent work by Purugganan and Fuller (Evolution 65:171–183, 2011) demonstrates a slow evolutionary rate in increasing grain size relative to the rates of evolution in wild species subject to natural selection. When the measurements of two-grained einkorn wheat from ‘Ais Yiorkis are compared with these same allochronic data the results indicate an accelerated rate in attaining larger grain size on Cyprus than on the mainland. The possibility of a domestication ‘event’ or rapid fixation of larger grain size characteristic of domesticated cereal crops in the context of an initially small island population is suggested by the colonisation by farmers of Cyprus in the Cypro-Pre-Pottery Neolithic.


Archaeobotany Cyprus Pre-Pottery Neolithic Plant domestication Triticum monococcum Early farming 



We thank our anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. These led to our inclusion of discussions on the effects of rainfall on grain size, which were a direct response to suggestions made by one of the reviewers. Archaeobotanical fieldwork was funded by the UNLV Graduate and Professional Student Association, UNLV International Programs, UCL Institute of Archaeology Awards and University College London Graduate School. Principal funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant Number BCS-0352689), the Brennan Foundation, the Institute for Aegean Prehistory, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the Johnson Foundation. Thanks to George Willcox for providing a copy of his raw data in spread sheet format.

Supplementary material

334_2011_323_MOESM1_ESM.doc (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 34 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leilani Lucas
    • 1
  • Sue Colledge
    • 1
  • Alan Simmons
    • 2
  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 1
  1. 1.UCL Institute of ArchaeologyLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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