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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2012 Oct;149(2):283-90. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22127. Epub 2012 Sep 8.

The earliest evidence of millet as a staple crop: New light on neolithic foodways in North China.

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Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3DZ, UK.


There is a growing body of archaeobotanical evidence for the harvesting of millet in Eurasia prior to 5,000 cal. BC. Yet direct evidence for the extent of millet consumption in this time period is rare. This contradiction may be due to millet crops making only a minor contribution to the diet before 5,000 BC. In this article, drawing from recent excavations in North China, we present evidence for millet crops making a substantial contribution to human and animal diets in periods, which correspond chronologically with the time depth of the archaeobotanical record. We infer that in eastern Inner Mongolia, human adoption of millets, which may or may be not related to substantial agriculture, happened at the Early Neolithic, with direct dates between 5,800 and 5,300 cal. BC.

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