This is rather significant because, not but a mere distance away, in the village of Saint-Blaise/Bains des Dames, a slightly earlier Corded Ware-ized village exists, completely without spelt. Rather, in Saint-Blaise, barley is the money grain. So, it is clear that this was a more recently developed local crop or possibly an imported crop. Either way it appears first with Bell Beakers.
Back in 2005, Akeret had referred to a previous hypothesis, that European spelt (genetically distinct from Asian spelt) was the result of an independent hybridization event between einkorn (diploid) and emmer (tetraploid) that happened in Europe creating spelt, a hexaploid wheat (2+4=6). The situation has developed that bread wheat, a hexaploid, is not descended from spelt (also a hexaploid), but that both Asian and European spelts might be more recent and separate creations.
At Cortaillod, a great variety of domestic and wild plants are found in the occupation area, grains, legumes, flax, hazelnuts and apples. The most interesting collections are the acorn stores that appear to have been common in Beakerworld (Akeret), probably for making cornmeal. Also, there are quite a few collected juniper berries, which might suggest certain alcoholic drinks, to me at least. There is also several caffeinated plants, maybe chamomile, sunflower seeds, and leafy plants.
|Shewry, 2009 [Link]|
So why plant spelt in Cortaillod? Spelt is winter hardy and can be grown in crappy, poorly drained and sandy soils. The people who planted spelt at Cortaillod did so with intelligent purpose, either having sought a suitable grain to meet the field conditions, or they imported themselves and the spelt hitchhiked.
I find the seed preferences of Late Neolithic Europeans interesting because it translates through time an intelligent decision process, one that involved contemplation, planning and networks.
See also on spelt:
Fokkens and Harding (2013)
Dvorak et al (2011)
Akeret, Orni "Plant remains from a Bell Beaer site in Switzerland, and the beginnings of Triticum spelta (spelt) cultivation in Europe" Veget Hist Archaeobot (2005) 14:279–286 DOI 10.1007/s00334-005-0071-1 [Link]