SARA: Seed Science and Archaeobotanical Research in Anatolia

Recent multidisciplinary studies considering archaeological and genomic studies have revealed that seed and plant genetic resources and related agricultural activities have shaped the history of human culture and its evolution beginning with the prehistoric period. Therefore, it can be argued that a good portion of cultural history is shaped around seed production and agriculture. Today, seed production and its economy are improving exponentially, acquiring a central role in food safety issues. Scientific data achieved out of studies in the areas of seed technology, plant genetic resources, agricultural economy, archaeobotany, DNA, aDNA, ethnobotany and archaeology has revealed some new problems and the necessity of interdisciplinary studies.

DNA and aDNA research conducted since the 1990’s have revealed that the volcanic mass Karacadağ in the Southeastern Anatolia was one of the “core areas”, where the wheat was first domesticated by humans. Genomic studies in plant resources have revealed that the wild ancestors of “Neolithic founder crops’’ representing the beginning of crop cultivation had a wide distribution in Anatolia. Similarly, ethnobotanical studies demonstrate that the cultivation of various plant species and their widespread use in the production of madder and aromatic or traditional medicine have deep-roots in Anatolian traditions reaching back to the prehistoric periods. Archaeobotanical studies have shed light on the role played by Anatolian societies in the origin and dispersal of agricultural economy. Archaeological research, on the other hand, indicated that a strong relationship existed between changes in the uses of plants and the key transformations in societies. Changes in plant use practices directly affected socio-economical structures such as the control of surplus value and the appearance of centralized economies, which are in many cases accompanied by technological changes like the transition from sickles to ards or transition from in-house storage units to communal silos.

Development in scientific and technological areas blurred the margin between different scientific disciplines, which in turn has compelled the establishment of new platforms based on cooperation of multidisciplinary studies. The aim of this symposium is, thus, to bring scholars from various disciplines together to discuss key topics related to the Anatolian history of agricultural production and current themes of seed science in Turkey. In this vein, SARA aims to respond to this need by enabling researchers to share scientific ideas and information around the six main disciplines mentioned below:

1) Seed science

2) Archaeobotany

3) DNA

4) Plant genetic resources

5) Ethnobotany

6) Archaeology