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Agronomy: The Domestication and Dispersal of Large-Fruiting Prunus spp.: A Metadata Analysis of Archaeobotanical Material

By March 30, 2023January 19th, 2024No Comments



The Prunus genus contains many of the most economically significant arboreal crops, cultivated globally, today. Despite the economic significance of these domesticated species, the pre-cultivation ranges, processes of domestication, and routes of prehistoric dispersal for all of the economically significant species remain unresolved. Among the European plums, even the taxonomic classification has been heavily debated over the past several decades. In this manuscript, we compile archaeobotanical evidence for the most prominent large-fruiting members of Prunus, including peach, apricot, almonds, sloes, and the main plum types. By mapping out the chronology and geographic distributions of these species, we are able to discuss aspects of their domestication and dispersal more clearly, as well as identify gaps in the data and unanswered questions. We suggest that a clearer understanding of these processes will say a lot about ancient peoples, as the cultivation of delayed return crops is an indicator of a strong concept of land tenure and the specialization of these cultivation strategies seems to be tied to urbanism and reliable markets. Likewise, the evolution of domestication traits in long-generation perennials, especially within Rosaceae, represents awareness of grafting and cloning practices.

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