The domestication of wheat and barley in the Fertile Crescent region of southwest Asia occurred more than 10,000 years ago, foreshadowing the transition to agricultural economies and complex societies. Archaeologist Robert Schacht collected this herbarium specimen of domestic barley in 1973 during his dissertation fieldwork in southwestern Iran. Schacht collected several dozen herbarium specimens; they include an array of wild and domestic food and medicinal plants, as well as common weeds. He also collected information from local informants on their names and uses. Comparative specimens such as this are helpful to archaeologists seeking to identify burnt and fragmentary remains and gain insights into resource distributions and past environments.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.