Ancient barley in Finland shows hunter-gatherers also farmed 5,000 years ago

A discovery of 5,000-year-old barley grains reveals that hunter-gatherers took to farming already that long ago in eastern Sweden and on islands along the southwest coast of Finland. These representatives of the Pitted Ware Culture from the Stone Age had been known as hard-core marine hunters, but the discovery of barley and wheat grains in areas they previously inhabited leads to the conclusion that the Pitted Ware Culture adopted agriculture on a small scale.

The age of the grains was determined using radiocarbon dating. In addition to the cereal grains, the plant remnants found in the sites included hazelnut shells, apple seeds, tuberous roots of lesser celandine and rose hips. The findings suggest that small-scale farming was adopted by the Pitted Ware Culture by learning the trade from farmers of the Funnel Beaker Culture who expanded from continental Europe to Scandinavia.

See: “A 5,000-year-old bar­ley grain dis­covered in Åland, south­ern Fin­land, turns re­search­ers’ un­der­stand­ing of an­cient North­ern live­li­hoods up­side down” by Santeri Vanhanen and Suvi Uotinen on the University of Helsinki website (2019)

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