Excavations at more than 50 sites over the last half-century have established the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East as the homeland of the first farmers.
This arc of land, broadly defined, extends from Israel through Lebanon and Syria, then through the plains and hills of Iraq and southern Turkeyand all the way to the head of the Gulf.
Among its "founder crops " were wheat, barley, various legumes, grapes, melons, dates pistachios and almonds.
The region also produced the first domesticated sheep, goats, pigs and cattle. But guestions persist: Where in the Fertile Crescent were the first wheat and barley crops produced?
What conditions favored this region? Why was the transition from hunting and foraging to farming so swift, occurring in only a few centuries?
New genetic studies suggest possible answers. They pinpoint the Karacadağ mountains, in southeast Turkey at the upper fringes of the Fertile Crescent, as the site where einkorn wheat was first domesticated from a wild species around 11,000 years ago. The scientists concluded, this is "very probably the site of einkorn domestication. "