This particularly domestication of olive and fig trees in the Copper Age in the Jordan Valley isn't very surprising (in contrast, for example, to the belated and complicated domestication of the almond tree or the long distance migration involved in banana domestication). But, it is still notable and helps piece together the overall chronology and story of plant and animal domestication over time.
A new study has unraveled the earliest evidence for domestication of a fruit tree, researchers report. The researchers analyzed remnants of charcoal from the Chalcolithic site of Tel Zaf in the Jordan Valley and determined that they came from olive trees. Since the olive did not grow naturally in the Jordan Valley, this means that the inhabitants planted the tree intentionally about 7,000 years ago.
From Science Daily.
The paper and its abstract are as follows:
This study provides one of the earliest examples of fruit tree cultivation worldwide, demonstrating that olive (Olea europaea) and fig (Ficus carica) horticulture was practiced as early as 7000 years ago in the Central Jordan Valley, Israel.
It is based on the anatomical identification of a charcoal assemblage recovered from the Chalcolithic (7200–6700 cal. BP) site of Tel Tsaf. Given the site’s location outside the wild olive’s natural habitat, the substantial presence of charred olive wood remains at the site constitutes a strong case for horticulture.
Furthermore, the occurrence of young charred fig branches (most probably from pruning) may indicate that figs were cultivated too. One such branch was 14C dated, yielding an age of ca. 7000 cal. BP.
We hypothesize that established horticulture contributed to more elaborate social contracts and institutions since olive oil, table olives, and dry figs were highly suitable for long-distance trade and taxation.
Dafna Langgut, Yosef Garfinkel. 7000-year-old evidence of fruit tree cultivation in the Jordan Valley, Israel. 12(1) Scientific Reports (2022) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10743-6