added by archaeologs A group of cereals, members of the genus Avena. As in wheats, there are diploid species, with two sets of chromosomes, tetra-ploid with four and hexapioid with six sets of chromosomes—the results of crosses between species. Most (but not all) cultivated oats are hexapioid, and seem to have developed from A. sterilis, the wild red oat, or Mediterranean wild oat. Main cultivated varieties include the common oat (A. sativd), found in cool climates; the cultivated red oat (A. byzantina), from hotter climates, and the large-seeded naked oat (A. nudd), now mostly found in Southwest Asia. Wild hexapioid species include A. fatua (common wild oat) and A. ludoviciana (sometimes regarded as a subspecies of A. sterilis), the winter wild oat. ‘Wild oats’ (undifferentiated) are present at early Neolithic sites of the Near East, dating to <6000 be. This need not imply deliberate gathering of oats, as the wild oats consistently grow as weeds amongst wheat crops. Cultivated hexapioid oats first appeared in Bronze Age Europe.
The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983