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Earliest domestication of common millet (Panicum miliaceum) in East Asia extended to 10, 000 years ago. PNAS

Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 05/2009; 106(18):7367-72. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0900158106
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

The origin of millet from Neolithic China has generally been accepted, but it remains unknown whether common millet (Panicum miliaceum) or foxtail millet (Setaria italica) was the first species domesticated. Nor do we know the timing of their domestication and their routes of dispersal. Here, we report the discovery of husk phytoliths and biomolecular components identifiable solely as common millet from newly excavated storage pits at the Neolithic Cishan site, China, dated to between ca. 10,300 and ca. 8,700 calibrated years before present (cal yr BP). After ca. 8,700 cal yr BP, the grain crops began to contain a small quantity of foxtail millet. Our research reveals that the common millet was the earliest dry farming crop in East Asia, which is probably attributed to its excellent resistance to drought.

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    • "Regarding pits, microarchaeological techniques ( phytoliths and biomolecular components) have been used to study their content at Cishan (early Neolithic China) providing the earliest evidence for the consumption of common millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) ca. 10·3–8·7 ka cal BP (Lu et al. 2009). More relevant to the present work are examples of the use of a mixed microarchaeological approach focusing on containers, such as: (a) the characterisation of archaeological visibility of ephemeral features (i.e. "

    Full-text · Dataset · Dec 2015
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    • "Regarding pits, microarchaeological techniques ( phytoliths and biomolecular components) have been used to study their content at Cishan (early Neolithic China) providing the earliest evidence for the consumption of common millet (Panicum miliaceum L.) ca. 10·3–8·7 ka cal BP (Lu et al. 2009). More relevant to the present work are examples of the use of a mixed microarchaeological approach focusing on containers, such as: (a) the characterisation of archaeological visibility of ephemeral features (i.e. "
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    ABSTRACT: The study of the technology underlying pre-industrial storage structures has an interest from an anthropological and archaeological perspective, in terms of the evolution of key cultural and cognitive capabilities, often related to the transition to food production. Microarchaeological techniques offer a unique perspective on the study of pre-industrial storing technologies. In this work, examples are presented from two archaeological contexts in different climatic and socio-ecological situations during the Holocene in S Asia and SW Europe. Microarchaeological techniques used in this study include micromorphology, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and phytolith analyses. The comparative study of two pits highlights key aspects of the decision-making process involved in technological solutions of storage: • The choice of a location for the construction of a given storage facility is highly affected by contextual climatic, microclimatic, soil and bioturbative factors • The time taken to consume stored foodstuffs seems to affect technological investment as much as the intrinsic conservation requirements of the stored taxa • The use of fire to hygienise pits implies that such structures were not conceived for single use • Pre-industrial storage systems can be seen as modular structures, which components (e.g. topographical location, sediment type, lining type, hygienisation techniques and cover) can be recombined to improve storage performance for different climatic settings and foodstuffs.
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    • "In the Lower Yangtze this had finished by 4000 BC (Fuller et al., 2009), whereas an earlier domestication in the Middle Yangtze is probable (Fuller, 2011; Nasu et al., 2012), including evidence from the dominance of domesticated spikelet bases in the lower (pre-Yangshao) occupation at Baligang before 6300 BC (Zhang and Hung, 2013; Deng et al., 2015). On the other hand, millets appear to have been widely cultivated across several northern Chinese cultures by 6000 BC (Liu et al., 2009; Bettinger et al., 2010; Zhao, 2011; Qin, 2012), while phytolith evidence from the Cishan site, Hebei province indicates possible earlier millet cultivation back to the start of the Holocene (Lu et al., 2009; Yang et al., 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Baligang is a Neolithic site with a long occupation, from before 6300BC up to the first millennium BC, although the bulk of excavated finds and archaeobotanical evidence from the site comes from the Yangshao, Qujialing, Shijiahe and Longshan (4300–1800BC). The cultural group affiliation of the site varies between northern (Yangshao and Longshan) and southern (Qujialing and Shijiahe) cultural connections. The earliest occupation of the site represents a pre-Yangshao society with early cultivation of rice (Oryza). In later periods Baligang has evidence for mixed farming of both rice and millets (Setaria italica and Panicum miliaceum), although rice is the most prominent crop in the phytolith record throughout the occupation. Wetland rice cultivation is indicated throughout the Yangshao, Qujialing, Shijiahe and Late Longshan periods. However, there is a shift towards better watered rice in the Qujialing and Shijiahe phytolith assemblages, indicated by a decline in sedges (Cyperaceae) alongside occurrence of sponge spicules and diatoms. These data suggest deeper flooding of rice fields in order to suppress weeds and increase productivity, indicating that the ecology of rice cultivation changed over time. In the Late Longshan period, when millet became more prominent and the cultural influence shifted northwards, it appears that more sedge-infested and weedy rice fields became the norm, suggesting a decline in rice cultivation intensity, perhaps connected to influences of cultivation practices from the north. In addition, we can infer aspects of the organisation of crop-processing from the phytolith evidence. In the Yangshao period the remains consist of mostly dehusking waste from the final processing, suggesting storage of a more processed crop and therefore larger scale, more communal post-harvest processing. By contrast this declined in the subsequent period with more evidence for primary winnowing waste indicating a shift towards smaller social scales of harvesting and processing, such as smaller household groups replacing a more communal approach. The household-level of processing is most evident in the Late Longshan period.
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