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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Mar 6;109(10):3726-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1115430109. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Early millet use in northern China.

Author information

1
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China. yangxy@igsnrr.ac.cn

Abstract

It is generally understood that foxtail millet and broomcorn millet were initially domesticated in Northern China where they eventually became the dominant plant food crops. The rarity of older archaeological sites and archaeobotanical work in the region, however, renders both the origins of these plants and their processes of domestication poorly understood. Here we present ancient starch grain assemblages recovered from cultural deposits, including carbonized residues adhering to an early pottery sherd as well as grinding stone tools excavated from the sites of Nanzhuangtou (11.5-11.0 cal kyBP) and Donghulin (11.0-9.5 cal kyBP) in the North China Plain. Our data extend the record of millet use in China by nearly 1,000 y, and the record of foxtail millet in the region by at least two millennia. The patterning of starch residues within the samples allow for the formulation of the hypothesis that foxtail millets were cultivated for an extended period of two millennia, during which this crop plant appears to have been undergoing domestication. Future research in the region will help clarify the processes in place.

PMID:
22355109
PMCID:
PMC3309722
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1115430109
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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