April 27, 2009

Domestication of common millet in East Asia at least 10,000 years old

Wikipedia entry on Proso millet that is up for an update, given the new date.

PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.0900158106

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

Houyuan Lu et al.


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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