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Sedimentary DNA from a submerged site reveals wheat in the British Isles 8000 years ago

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Author(s)

Oliver Smith, Garry Momber, C. Richard Bates, Paul Garwood, Simon Fitch, Mark Pallen, Vincent Gaffney, Robin G. Allaby

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Abstract

The Mesolithic-to-Neolithic transition marked the time when a hunter-gatherer economy gave way to agriculture, coinciding with rising sea levels. Bouldnor Cliff, is a submarine archaeological site off the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom that has a well-preserved Mesolithic paleosol dated to 8000 years before the present. We analyzed a core obtained from sealed sediments, combining evidence from microgeomorphology and microfossils with sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA) analyses to reconstruct floral and faunal changes during the occupation of this site, before it was submerged. In agreement with palynological analyses, the sedaDNA sequences suggest a mixed habitat of oak forest and herbaceous plants. However, they also provide evidence of wheat 2000 years earlier than mainland Britain and 400 years earlier than proximate European sites. These results suggest that sophisticated social networks linked the Neolithic front in southern Europe to the Mesolithic peoples of northern Europe.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1001
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume347
Issue number6225
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Feb 2015

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