A wheat seed story - introducing 'A Year On The Field'

Illustration 1: Wheat seeds from the 7th millenium BC (left) and the 21st century (right). Pictures: Tina Roushannafas / Stine Wundram.

The two pictures above could not be more opposite:

On the left is a charred wheat grain. It comes from the Neolithic East Mound (7th millenium BC) in Çatalhöyük (Central Anatolia) and provides impressive evidence of the early breeding history of common wheat (Tricitum aestivum) in the Near East. On the right side, there is a handful of organic seeds called “Aristano", a long awned variety approved in Germany in 2016 - high quality and resistant to common bunt of wheat (German "Steinbrand").

In a way, these reflect on over 8000-years of wheat breeding and cultivation, spread over several continents of the world. Wheat is truly global and it has been through time.

The potential of exactly this diachronic and global view of wheat allows us to introduce our project "A Year On The Field". Wheat's worldwide enormous importance and global distribution inspired us to look for collaborators in many areas of the globe to document, share and discuss all steps of wheat cultivation and processing - for one complete year. As of November 2021, more than 15 archaeological open-air museums, living history farms, farmers and museums from over nine countries have stepped up as project partners in our global experiment. We are pleased to also welcome a variety of scientists, artists, and practitioners to enrich the growing team.

Our goals (and passion) are equally diverse and multi-layered as our team. We want to:

• enable a global exchange on the historical methods of wheat cultivation and harvest, including regional and epoch differences

• note the importance of wheat in current culture or historical recipes contexts

• promote regional, national, and international networking of museums, research and producers

• create an increased public attention for sustainable cultivation methods using word, image and film

• strengthen the importance of museums in public discourse and agriculture

We think this project therefore holds enormous potential to set an example for deep networking on an international scale, to bring together people from different backrounds as well as to join forces in raising awareness on fundamental themes of food production and consumption.

And finally, it is with great pleasure to announce that we will do everything in our power to live up to this claim.

Claus Kropp Project-Coordinator Manager Lauresham Laboratory for Experimental Archaeology