It is rather remarkable that after millions of years of living as foragers, humans on opposite sides of the Eurasian landmass adopted agriculture at roughly the same time. Some would interpret this as evidence of long-range diffusion of ideas, or even people.
I don't reject that idea; it's possible that the notion of agriculture became widely known among contemporary hunter-gatherers even if they did not adopt it right away. If that was the case, then "agriculture" (the concept) could have traveled far and wide without the spread of people or domesticates, explaining why eastern and western Eurasian peoples domesticated different species. It was later that "agriculture" started expanding from its cradles not only as a concept, but also as a people and as a complete economic package.
Alternatively, agriculture as an idea sprouted at the same time in West and East because of a law-like response of humans to the changing environment after the end of the last Ice Age. Under that hypothesis, prehistoric climate change either led to increases in population size or changes in ecosystems, and people on either side of the Eurasian landmass responded in sync to the same problem in similar ways.
Both explanations may be consistent with the later adoption of agriculture in Mesoamerica and Sub-Saharan Africa. Being at the periphery of human habitation, the idea of agriculture may have reached these lands later; alternatively, living close to the equator, inhabitants of these regions did not have to deal with the more dramatic consequences of deglaciation and climate change that more northerly humans had to contend with.
China began cultivating millet 10,000 years ago: archaeologists
SHIJIAZHUANG, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists said Sunday that they have found evidence of the cultivation of glutinous millet in the northern province of Hebei that could date back to 10,000 years, the earliest evidence of people growing the crop in the world.
Lab results showed that remains of glutinous millet found at archaeological sites in Cishan Village in the city of Wu'an were harvested during the Neolithic Era between 8,700 to 10,000 years ago, scientists with the Institute of Geology and Geophysics of China Academy of Sciences (IGGCAS) said at a cultural festival held in Wu'an on Sunday.
This means Cishan was the birthplace of the crop, archaeologists said.
They have also found remains of foxtail millet in the pits, which could date back to between 8,700 and 7,500 years. This would be the earliest evidence of the crop's cultivation, which means that Cishan was the birthplace of foxtail millet, too, said Lu Houyuan, an IGGCAS scientist.
Cultivating small-seeded dry crops was more prevalent than cultivating rice in prehistoric times, especially in China's semi-arid northern regions, Lu said.
A total of 50,000 kilograms of grains have been stored in 88 pits for thousands of years at the Cishan Site, a Neolithic site discovered in 1972.
In addition to grain remnants, pottery, stone tools, animal bones and bone artifacts have also been excavated from the site, which archaeologists believe will help their research in the emergence of agriculture in China.