Today, of course, soybeans are used as livestock feed and to make cooking oil, tofu, tempeh, edamame and protein powder for human consumption.
The new archaeological evidence, Lee says, should be a springboard for archaeologists, crop scientists and plant geneticists to collaborate on understanding cultural contributions, which may lead them to better soybean characteristics. Cultural knowledge, she said, could fill in gaps that relate to domestication and genetic changes of the legume.
"I think one contribution that archaeologists can make is how peoples in ancient times contributed to our heritage of this viable crop and how we can trace their efforts and the methods to help guide us to make even better crops today," Lee said.
In Lee's homeland of South Korea, the research team uncovered evidence for a cultural selection for larger sized soybeans at 3,000 years ago. The evidence for such dating, which also surfaced in Japan, indicates that the farming of soybeans was much more widespread in times much earlier than previously assumed, researchers concluded.
|Contact: Jim Barlow|
University of Oregon