(click on the picture to go back)
By about 9,000 BP, when the tetraploid
Cultivated Emmer had reached an area around the south west of
the Caspian Sea, it had entered the natural range of the diploid
Goat Grass, Aegilops tauschii, a weed
growing in and around the fields of Emmer Wheat. Pollen from this
Goat Grass pollinated some of the Emmer and, by amphiploidy,
created Spelt, Triticum spelta, the first
This new hybrid, like the predecessors Emmer Wheat and Goat Grass,
had a brittle rachis that fragmented into individual segments,
each retaining the grain in a hard shell or 'hull'. Spelt initially
occurred in a mixture with Emmer but was later cultivated separately
in many parts of Europe. It spread around the north of the Alps
before reaching Britain in the Bronze Age, about 3,500 BP and
was common in Britain in the Iron Age and early Roman Period.
It was later replaced by a free-threshing wheat introduced by
the Romans in about 2,000 BP.
Spelt almost disappeared from cultivation but is now grown in
some parts of Europe, especially Germany, where it is known as
Dinkel, and in smaller quantities in Britain and America. The
main use is for the health food market with the grain being milled
into flour for bread making, processed into flakes for muesli,
or even roasted as a 'coffee' substitute.