The Domestication of Europe

Key points:

  • Phylogeographical analysis of modern barley and wheat landraces;

This project, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, the University of Cambridge and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, aimed to investigate the spread of crops across Europe through phylogenetic analysis of DNA. A key focus of the project was to determine the extent to which phylogeographical analysis of modern landraces of barley and wheat could reveal genetic information pertaining to the spread and establishment of cereal cultivation from its points of origin in Southwest Asia into and through Europe.


Crop genetics was used to evaluate the relative roles of climatic adaptation and human assimilation in determining the rate of agricultural spread and the success of cereal cultivation in different geographical regions. A number of distinct populations were identified amongst barley landraces, which are associated with both environmental variables and human selection.

Funded by: NERC Consortium Projectnerc-logo
Grant Period: 2004 - 2009
Grant Holder: Prof. T. Brown (Manchester, Life Sciences), Prof G Jones (Sheffield, Archaeology), Dr M. Charles (Sheffield, Archaeology), Prof M. Jones (Cambridge, Archaeology), and Prof W Powell (NIAB)
Researchers: Dr S. College, Dr H. Jones, Dr F. Leigh and Dr D. Leiter.

Relevant publications