Monday, January 22, 2007

Civlization and the chickpea

Sorry to sneak in a non-Egyptian story two days in a row, but like the Mali pottery, this one may well be of interest to anyone interested in the development of Egypt in the Neolithic. Chickpeas are one of a "package" of domesticated plants that were employed in Egypt, apparently adopted simultaneously, only after they had become the standard combination of crops grown in the Near East (wheat, lentils, barley, and flax): "Researchers have long claimed that the nutritional benefits of chickpeas could be one of the reasons for the rise of civilization in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia. And now a team of Israeli scientists believe they have discovered the reason why. Zohar Kerem and Shahar Abbo from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have found that cultivated chickpeas contain three times as much amino acid tryptophan, a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotin, as wild chickpeas. Tryptophan is responsible for brain serotonin synthesis, which in turn affects certain brain functions and human behavior."
See the above page for a summary of the research.

The research appeared in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

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