Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Ancient Mesopotamia and wheat

The appearance of agriculture in the Fertile Crescent has propelled the development of Western civilization. The most important crops in Mesopotamia were wheat and barley. Farmers also grew dates, grapes, figs, melons, and apples.

The Sumerian word for wheat was “she-lib-ba,” a word meaning “the dark grain.” During the 6th millennium BC, emmer wheat was largely cultivated in the plains of Mesopotamia and western Anatolia. It reached Turkmenistan by the middle of the 6th millennium BC when early farming villages were established in the northern foothills of the Kopet Dagh Mountains.

The inhabitants of the land between the Tigris and Euphrates used mainly barley and emmer, a type of wheat, to brew their beer. Emmer wheat and also barley played a very important cultural role. In Mesopotamia “bread and beer” was the phrase corresponding to current society as “bread and water.” By the time writing was invented in Mesopotamia, brewing was already a well-established technology.

Emmer wheat is one of the three hulled wheats known in Italy as farro. It is a low yielding, awned wheat. It was one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. It was widely cultivated in the ancient world.
Ancient Mesopotamia and wheat