Domestication of Pulses in the Old World

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Science  30 Nov 1973:
Vol. 182, Issue 4115, pp. 887-894
DOI: 10.1126/science.182.4115.887


This article reviews the available information on the place of origin and time of domestication of the cultivated pea (Pisum sativum), lentil (Lens culinaris), broad bean (Vicia faba), bitter vetch (V. ervilia), and chickpea (Cicer arietinum). On the basis of (i) an examination and evaluation of archeological remains and (ii) an identification of the wild progenitors and delimitation of their geographic distribution, it was concluded that pea and lentil should be regarded as founder crops of Old World Neolithic agriculture. Most probably they were domesticated, in the Near East, simultaneously with wheats and barley (certainly not later than the sixth millennium B.C.). Bitter vetch shows a similar mode of origin. The evidence on the broad bean and the chickpea is much more fragmentary and the wild progenitors of these legumes are yet not satisfactorily identified. But also these two pulses emerge as important food elements in Bronze Age cultures of the Near East and Europe.