wheat: History


Wheat was one of the first of the grains domesticated by humans (see grain). Its cultivation began in the Neolithic period; some ancient species of wheat were domesticated by 10,000 years ago in what is now Turkey. A millennium later wheat had spread to the Near East, and it was cultivated in Egypt by 5000 b.c. By way of Iran, wheat reached India around 4000 b.c. and China around 2000 b.c. About 8,000 years ago it arrived in Greece from Turkey, and then spread throughout Europe, reaching Britain around 3000 b.c. The civilizations of W Asia and of the European peoples have been largely based on wheat, while rice has been more important in E Asia. Since agriculture began, wheat has been the chief source of bread for Europe and the Middle East. It was introduced into Mexico by the Spaniards c.1520 and into Virginia by English colonists early in the 17th cent.

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