19 Pages


ByCharles Clement

The biblical tale of the Garden of Eden describes how fruit trees provided most of Adam and Eve’s sustenance. Upon their expulsion from the Garden, they and their descendants had to learn agriculture and live “by the sweat of their brows.” Modern archaeological research about the transition to agriculture shows that pre-agricultural subsistence included numerous fruit trees in most parts of the world, including Southwest Asia. The more affluent hunter-gatherers, who generally became the first farmers (Hayden 1995, 273-99), used a wide range of fruits and nuts in their subsistence strategies. Fruits were not abandoned during the transition to agriculture, with wild fruits an important resource in most farming communities until recently. However, in temperate areas fruits were generally domesticated several millennia later than the annual cereals and pulses. The timing might in some cases may reflect the difficulty of vegetative propagation of certain trees.