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Do you like walnuts

4 September 2015

Do you like walnuts? They were a valuable trade commodity in the past, spreading out along the Silk Road, from  Persia to China in the east, and to Europe in the west – see http://phys.org/print360565821.html

The researchers interest was sparked by the similarity of the word for them as used in a lot of different languages, suggesting a common origin – yet walnut dominated forests exist in some regions which may suggest deliberate planting, and human management. It is not just the walnuts themselves that are attractive as an easily stored food source for the winter months but the wood of the walnut tree was highly prized too. It still is. The only problem is that it takes years for a walnut seedling to develop into a nut bearing tree – so deliberate planting would be for future generations (rather than the original planters). Once walnuts form on a tree they can produce a wonderful crop – year after year.

Another food resource that was spread into Asia by the Silk Road, as far north as Mongolia and as far east as China, was the sheep. It was also taken to Europe as a species that appears to have been domesticated in the Fertile Crescent in the early Holocene period. See http://phys.org/print360321171.html … and the interesting discovery that sheep breeds developed in Mongolia were reverse dispersed back into western Asia by the Mongol hordes of the Middle Ages. 

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