Institute of Archaeology


British Academy award for project exploring change in crops over time and space

8 August 2022

Dorian Fuller (UCL Institute of Archaeology) has been awarded British Academy funding for research to investigate the evolution of cereal crops in the Neolithic Balkans.

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A key aspect of the dispersal of agriculture was the translocation of crops to regions beyond the biogeographical limits of their wild progenitors and initial zones of domestication. Crops adapted to new regions through the evolution of landraces, which have the potential to be explored through morphometric evidence for change in crops over time and space. This aspect of crop evolution during and through dispersal has been little studied by archaeologists.

The project, led by Dorian Fuller, working with Anne de Vareilles (PhD UCL, 2017), will explore this crop evolution for emmer and einkorn wheat in the central-western Balkans, one of the first regions to which cereal agriculture was brought as it spread out of its Near Eastern heartland. This area is composed of North Macedonia, eastern Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a group of countries that connect Greece and Bulgaria to the rest of Europe, and is a key geographical corridor between the Mediterranean and temperate Europe. It was extensively occupied during the Neolithic, suggesting that farming communities were successful in a variety of ecological conditions.

This innovative pilot study aims to offer a new approach on understanding the development of agricultural practices during the Neolithic of the central-western Balkans.