droppings provide a unique germination medium. All of the other species of apple appear to be distributed by birds, providing no selection mechanism for large size. Fruits of wild relatives of the domesticated apple occur in the Mideast and Europe and were frequently collected by Neolithic and Bronze Age farmers. However it is difficult to know precisely when the larger, sweeter apples of central Asia reached the West because reference to apple (hazur) in the early Sumerian literature may in fact refer to the indigenous, bitter, small-fruited species, Malus orientalis. The earliest archeological evidence (early dynasty III, about 2200–2100 BCE)of dried apples are rings of small fruits (11 to 18 mm in diameter), possibly threaded on a string, on saucers in Queen Pu-abi’s grave at Ur near present-day Basra, Iraq (Postgate 1987; Renfrew 1987). Apples lose their bitterness when dried (Barrie Juniper, pers. commun.), and if wild M. orientaliswere harvested it might have been consumed in this manner.
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