Pre-domestication granaries in Jordan: Kuijt & Finlayson (2009) in PNAS report preserved archaeological structures for granaries—round buildings which would have had raised wooden floors and lifespans of ca. 50 years. (This has also been reported by Michael Balter on the ScienceNOW blog.) They suggest these structures might have contained morphologically wild barley. It is a pity the archaeobotanical evidence from this site, which they elude to, is not actually presented in any detail (nor is whoever has done the work mentioned in the acknowledgements).
The quality of the excavation and the reconstruction of the architectural remains is exemplary, and leaves little doubt that raised floor granaries were constructed at Dhra (and presumable other Southern Levant sites) in the PPNA, by ca. 9200 BC. This is important evidence, since storage has more often been inferred than structurally demonstrated. They associate these structures with evidence from other sites for morphologically wild cereals (Gilgal: oats and barley; Netiv Hagdud: barley) and suggest that large-scale storage was a key part of the transition to reliance on pre-domestication cultivation. This evidence for large scale storage starting only in the PPNA seems to challenge our expectations that storage amongst hunter-gatherers ought to be a prerequisite for cultivation. Instead it appears that large-scale storage occurs alongside, or even results from (occurring after), the move to early cultivation. Undoubtedly there would have been smaller-scale precursors, such as the more limited evidence of possible Natufian silos and caching that they review.
Also of interest is the observation that storage structures move from public spaces to the inside of houses at ca. 8500 BC in the PPNB and then to special rooms by 7500 BC. This shift seems to parallel the move from early pre-domestication cultivation to more intensive cultivation as domestication traits, like non-shattering that began to increase in cereal populations from c.8500 BC and became predominant after 7500 BC (as documented for the northern Levant by Tanno & Willcox, Science 2006; and for the broader region, including Jordan, in Fuller 2007 Ann. Bot.—most of the evidence from Jordan is from S. Colledge (2001) Plant exploitation on epipalaeolithic and early neolithic sites in the Levant, BAR). This also parallels a trend in the find spots of food processing tools (grinding stones), documented by Karen Wright (UCL), which move from public spaces in the Natufian to inside houses in the PPNA-Ea. PPNB and into well-hidden back rooms by the end of the PPNB (Wright, K, 2000. The social origins of cooking and dining in early villages of western
There is something of a southern