A few days ago I was going through one of my “To Do” folders and came across this article, Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps? (2019) by Gideon Lewis-Kraus One passage in particular caught my attention:
About 5,000 years ago, a “relatively sudden” mass migration of nomadic herders from the east — the steppes of eastern Ukraine and southern Russia — swept in and almost entirely replaced the continent’s existing communities of hunter-gatherers and early farmers. These newcomers were known to exploit many of the cutting-edge technologies of the time: the domestication of horses, the wheel and, perhaps most salient, axes and spearheads of copper. (Their corpses sometimes featured cutting-edge wounds.)
This reminded me of another westward migration that occurred at around the same time.
The earliest historical records on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets indicate that rose became known to humans about 5,000 years ago. A clay tablet about Sargon I, King of Akkadia (2684-2630 BCE), records that the king brought rose saplings during his military campaign to the countries across the Tigris River. Because he formerly lived in the ancient city of Ur near Babylon, his trip was most probably to southeastern Anatolia (present-day Turkey).
It’s been a long time since my High School Western Civ class, but I seem to recall that it all began in Greece. However, I don’t recall any reminder that the earliest “Greek” philosophers/scientists hailed from Miletus in Asia Minor (=Anatolia). E.g., Thales of Miletus, (d. 548–545 BCE). Ancient Miletus is now part of Istanbul (not Constantinople).
This historical trivia is rose-relevant because Pliny the Elder [AD 23/24-79] mentioned, “… the rose of Miletus, the flower of which is an extremely brilliant red, and has never more than a dozen petals.”
This brief note is not enough for a positive identification, but it does agree with the Velvet Rose. Of course, I cannot insist that the Holosericeas, and the possibly related Tuscans, were included in Sargon’s rose plantations. But as Linnaeus wrote in his Hortus Cliffortianus (1737):
We are a little worried about the catalog of the Roses, so long as we do not know how to distinguish the species; nor are the species determined in roses by anyone, nor can they be described by anyone other than the one who examines the birthplaces."
That said, it seems clear enough that > Rosa gallica > and > R. Damascena,incarnata,provincialis > are not natives of France, though they may have become naturalized there.
In addition, its lack of genetic diversity suggests that Rosa foetida is not native to Persia … or anywhere else. The most genetic diversity, such as it is, is now found in Turkey.
As for displaced species, here’s an interesting tidbit:
Ann Bot. 2015 Feb; 115(2): 275–291.
Phylogeny and biogeography of wild roses with specific attention to polyploids
Marie Fougère-Danezan, Simon Joly, Anne Bruneau, Xin-Fen Gao, and Li-Bing Zhang
The only sub-Saharan species of the genus Rosa, > R. abyssinica> , is resolved by chloroplast data as embedded in the Cinnamomeae clade but clearly shows the synstyly consistent with R. sect. Synstylae. The nuclear GAPDH sequences resolve this species as closely related to > R. gallica> (R. sect. Rosa) and European species of R. sect. Synstylae, suggesting a hybrid origin.
So, a Musk rose, of a sort, had a Cinnamomeae grandma.
And while I’m here, I should mention that cotton has been cultivated in the Americas (all three) for more than 6,000 years. The fun fact is that the various species are all allotetraploids, and share one common parent: Gossypium herbaceum, a species native to Africa. Somebody was doing some traveling, back then. By the way, cotton was grown in Sudan (next door to Abyssinia/Ethiopia) long before the Egyptians caught on.