Weeds indicate early farming, according to articles in ScienceDaily 22 July 2015 and PLoS ONE 10.1371/journal.pone.0131422. Israeli and American scientists have analysed plant remains found at a site named Ohalo II, which they described as “a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel”. They found seeds of wild emmer (a type of wheat), barley, and oats, along with pea and grass species. The researchers also found a grinding stone with cereal starch granules on it, and a distinctive pattern of distribution of the cereal grains around it indicating the stone was being used to process cereals for food.
The researchers also identified 13 species of weeds. According to the research team: “Because weeds thrive in cultivated fields and disturbed soils, a significant presence of weeds in archaeobotanical assemblages retrieved from Neolithic sites and settlements of later age is widely considered an indicator of systematic cultivation”.
Because of the very ancient date given to this site, the scientists claim the collection of plant species “provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment—at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture”. They went on to suggest “their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record”.
Marcelo Sternberg of Tel-Aviv University commented: “While full-scale agriculture did not develop until much later, our study shows that trial cultivation began far earlier than previously believed, and gives us reason to rethink our ancestors’ capabilities. Those early ancestors were more clever and more skilled than we knew”.
Editorial Comment: Our early ancestors were highly skilled and clever, but not because they were evolving upwards from primitive hunter-gatherers. The real history of agriculture, complete with weeds, is clearly set out in the Bible.
In the beginning human beings were created to be gardeners, and lived in a garden with no weeds. After they rebelled against God they were expelled from the garden and became farmers, growing grains and tending animals. When God judged them He also cursed the ground, and some plants became weeds. Agriculture continued past the flood via Noah, who was described as “a man of the soil”.
After the rebellion at the Tower of Babel the population was split up, and small groups of people had to scratch out a living as best they could in new environments, drawing on whatever knowledge and experience they had in pre-Babel days. Some would have known how to grow crops, some would have had to experiment, building on partial knowledge, and some would have had no idea, and resorted to hunting and gathering as a means of survival.
This site in Israel is described as a “hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp” because archaeologists found remains of huts with stone and flint tools, beads, bone and wooden objects, and remains of fish, molluscs, birds and small animals. However these, along with evidence of food crops, indicate intelligent resourceful people making the most of the environment they found themselves in, and no doubt cursing the weeds like many other farmers and gardeners throughout history.
Yet even the weeds are a constant reminder we live in a world under judgement, and are in need of a Saviour. Praise God that the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ has come, and those who put their trust in Him can look forward to eternal life a new weed-free world. (Ref. botany, archaeology, cultivation)
Evidence News vol. 15, no 25
16 December 2015
Creation Research Australia