10,000 years ago on the plains of what will eventually become the Sahara Desert, a young farmer girl has filled her basket with cereal grains she has collected from the day’s harvest. The wooden instrument under her belt is a primitive sickle studded with stone bladelets to help her gather the grains.
Recent archaeological excavations in southwestern Libya have shown that African people were extensively harvesting and perhaps even cultivating “wild” cereals in the region 10,000 years before present, roughly contemporary with similar experiments in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East. Not only have over 200,000 specimens of grain been recovered at the dig in question, but so have pieces of woven baskets that would have been used to carry the grains, as well as pieces of pottery with cereal soup residue still on them. Perhaps future discoveries will show that Africa was among the earliest, if not the earliest, cradles of agriculture in human history.