Einkorn History / Timeline

The Future of Our Food is a Thing of the Past

Einkorn was the first species of wheat to be domesticated from wild by humans during the Neolithic Revolution, a time when the transition from hunter-gather was made and agriculture was born. Seeds were selected from the wild and farmed for the first time, as communities formed and an agricultural economy evolved. Archeological evidence shows that the cultivation of einkorn expanded from the Fertile Crescent eastward to Central Europe. Einkorn was consumed by the Egyptians, but because it grows better in cold climates, its expansion south was limited. The Romans preferred to consume einkorn ground and cooked as porridge and less as baked bread.

Einkorn was cultivated through the Bronze Age and then diminished over time. Archeologists discovered near-living proof of einkorn when two hikers came across a body protruding from a melting glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991. This body was unveiled to be that of Ötzi the Iceman, named after the region where he was found, preserved in ice for over 5,000 years. His last meal was preserved, examined and found to include Ibex meat, roots, berries and einkorn wheat.

As new varieties of wheat evolved, they were preferred because of higher agricultural yields. Einkorn yields less than half that of its successors. Through breeding over time, farmers observed and selected seeds of preferred crops, wheat became free-threshing. Einkorn and other more ancient varieties of wheat are hulled, meaning their grain has a protective layer that remains intact after harvesting. This requires an extra step of removal before milling. Today einkorn can still be found in the wild in Turkey and is cultivated very rarely in some parts of Europe.