News from the DAE Research Group

Dr. von Baeyer receives Gerda Henkel Fellowship
Dr. von Baeyer has been awarded a fellowship to continue her ongoing research into human impacts on the environment along the ancient Silk Road. She is also studying the origins of arboriculture and the maintenance of forests in ancient Central Asia. more
Exploring Grain Size Variation in Prehistoric Central Asian Barley
In a recent collaborative study, scientists compare changes in the size and shape of ancient barley grains from Europe and Central Asia to understand and highlight the plausible drivers for population-scale change through time more
Ancient Megafaunal Mutualisms and Extinctions as Factors in Plant Domestication
Of the vast diversity of plants on Earth, only a few evolved to become prominent agricultural crops. Scholars now suggest they originally evolved to secure mutualistic relationships with now-extinct megafauna. more
Agropastoralists in Central Tibet Chose a Barley-Based Farming System by 3,000 Years Ago
New research pushes this development back roughly 1,000 years and sheds light on motivating factors more
Anthropogenic Seed Dispersal: Rethinking the Origins of Plant Domestication
In a new manuscript, Dr. Robert Spengler argues that all of the earliest traits of plant domestication are linked to a mutualistic relationship in which plants recruited humans for seed dispersal. more
5200-Year-Old Cereal Grains From the Eastern Altai Mountains Predate the Trans-Eurasian Crop Exchange
Agricultural crops dispersed across Eurasia more than five millennia ago, causing significant cultural change in human populations across the ancient world. New discoveries in the Altai Mountains illustrate that this process occurred earlier than believed more
Patrick Roberts, Stephan Schiffels, and Robert Spengler Awarded ERC Starting Grants
The highly competitive grants will allow the recipients to fund research groups on their projects "PANTROPOCENE: Finding a Pre-industrial, Pan-tropical 'Anthropocene'", "MICROSCOPE: Zooming into the Population History of Iron Age Europe with Rare Genetic Variants", and "FEDD: Fruits of Eurasia: Domestication and Dispersal". more
New book "Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat" by Dr. Robert N. Spengler III
All of the plants on our kitchen tables have a long and mysterious history. Many of them can trace part of their ancestry back to the ancient Silk Road trade routes. New archaeobotanical data is illustrating how the domestication and dispersal process for the plants unfolded, as presented in Dr. Spengler’s new book. more
Grazing Animals Drove Domestication of Grain Crops
The ancestral relatives of millets and other small-seeded crops originally evolved to be dispersed by megafaunal grazers of the Pleistocene and earlier epochs, and in some cases later came to rely on pastoral herds to disperse their seeds. more
The Origins of Cannabis Smoking: Marijuana Use in the First Millennium BC
A chemical residue study of incense burners from ancient burials at high elevations in the Pamir Mountains of western China has revealed psychoactive cannabinoids. This study provides some of the earliest clear evidence for the use of cannabis for its psychoactive compounds, and the awareness of higher THC-producing varieties of the plant.   more
Exploring the Origins of the Apple
Apples originally evolved in the wild to entice ancient megafauna to disperse their seeds. More recently, humans began spreading the trees along the Silk Road with other familiar crops. Dispersing the apple trees led to their domestication. more
Go to Editor View