Title

Ptolemaic Agriculture, “Syrian Wheat”, and Triticum aestivum

Keywords

phylothis, wheat, triticum aestivum, kedesh, ptolemies, agriculture

Abstract

We have identified bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) via influorescence bract phytoliths (plant microfossils) recovered from two 2nd century bc storage jars found in an Egyptian administrative building in northern Israel. This suggests T. aestivum is a likely candidate for “Syrian wheat”, a previously unidentified cultivar mentioned in 3rd century bc papyri. This wheat was apparently introduced by King Ptolemy II but soon rejected by Egyptian farmers. Equating “Syrian wheat” with T. aestivum may explain its unpopularity. Unlike the long-cultivated and popular T. durum, whose genetic traits produce dense, heavy bread, the genetics of T. aestivum result in a lighter loaf that perhaps was unwelcome as a primary carbohydrate source.

Original Publication Citation

Berlin, A.M., T.B. Ball, R. Thompson, D. Kittleson, and S.C. Herbert. 2003. Ptolemaic agriculture, "Syrian wheat", and Triticum aestivum. Journal of Archaeological Science 30:115-121.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2003-1

Publisher

Journal of Archaeological Science

Language

English

College

Religious Education

Department

Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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