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New Trips Through the Back Alleys of Agriculture

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Science  27 Apr 2001:
Vol. 292, Issue 5517, pp. 631-633
DOI: 10.1126/science.292.5517.631

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When did hunter-gatherers begin trading the wild life for farming and herding? Over the past decade, advances in molecular biology, accelerator mass spectrometry dating, and other techniques have begun to offer new answers to agriculture's oldest question, but big gaps in the historical picture remain. To fill in those gaps, scientists are expanding their search by taking a closer look at museum collections and by exploring tiny plant remains trapped beneath ancient food residue or stuck to excavated tools and teeth.