This is an ancient species of wheat known from around 7,700 BC and continued to be used up to about 3,000 BC as a premier crop. This wheat was also used as a secondary crop well into the Roman Period. The oldest reference to emmer in archaeology is a radio carbon date of 7,000 BC (Ohalo II Tombs, Palaeolithic Israel).
Emmer is an awned wheat, having long spiked ears from the seed head. It is a hybrid species between wild emmer (Triticum dicoccoides) and a diploid wild wheat grass (Triticum urartu) which is closely related to wild emmer. The grain has a closed hull which makes it difficult to thresh. Crushing the grain before winnowing works well with this grain.
Emmer was first known from Egypt and soon spread across the
Fertile Crescent. This was an area including Lower Egypt,
Upper Egypt, Levant, Phoenicia, Assyria and Mesopotamia to the Lower
Sea (Persian Gulf).
Fertile Crescent with modern boundaries.
Emmer has been cultivated insignificant quantities in Rome and Israel
and has more recently been used extensively in Ethiopia.
However, there are few cases of use today as this wheat has a
significantly lower yield than modern varieties.
The wheat is a high protein and low gluten variety which is very hardy and will grow on low fertile soils. Until 1906, Emma was only known from archaeological sites, but a chance discovery found the species growing in Upper Galilee around Mount Kna'anin in what is now the state of Israel.
Shipton Mill - produces a limited amount of Emmer wheat flour