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      Millets across Eurasia: chronology and context of early records of the genera Panicum and Setaria from archaeological sites in the Old World

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          Abstract

          We have collated and reviewed published records of the genera Panicum and Setaria (Poaceae), including the domesticated millets Panicum miliaceum L. (broomcorn millet) and Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv. (foxtail millet) in pre-5000 cal b.c. sites across the Old World. Details of these sites, which span China, central-eastern Europe including the Caucasus, Iran, Syria and Egypt, are presented with associated calibrated radiocarbon dates. Forty-one sites have records of Panicum ( P. miliaceum, P. cf. miliaceum, Panicum sp., Panicum type, P. capillare (?) and P. turgidum) and 33 of Setaria ( S. italica, S. viridis, S. viridis/ verticillata, Setaria sp., Setaria type). We identify problems of taphonomy, identification criteria and reporting, and inference of domesticated/wild and crop/weed status of finds. Both broomcorn and foxtail millet occur in northern China prior to 5000 cal b.c.; P. miliaceum occurs contemporaneously in Europe, but its significance is unclear. Further work is needed to resolve the above issues before the status of these taxa in this period can be fully evaluated.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00334-008-0187-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Plants and people from the Early Neolithic to Shang periods in North China.

          An assemblage of charred plant remains collected from 26 sites in the Yiluo valley of North China as part of an archaeological survey spans the period from the sixth millennium to 1300 calibrated calendrical years (cal) B.C. The plant remains document a long sequence of crops, weeds, and other plants in the country. The results also demonstrate the effectiveness of sediment sampling as part of an archaeological survey. Ten accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dates on crop remains inform an assessment of the sequence of agricultural development in the region. Foxtail millet (Setaria italica subsp. italica) was grown during the Early Neolithic period and was the principal crop for at least four millennia. Broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) was significantly less important throughout the sequence. Rice (Oryza sativa) was introduced by 3000 cal B.C. but apparently was not an important local crop. Wheat became a significant crop between 1600 and 1300 cal B.C. The weed flora diversified through time and were dominated by annual grasses, some of which were probably fodder for domesticated animals. The North China farming tradition that emphasized dry crops (millets, wheat, and legumes) with some rice appears to have been established at the latest by the Early Shang (Erligang; 1600-1300 B.C.) period.
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            Archaeobotanical Evidence for the Spread of Farming in the Eastern Mediterranean

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              A comparison of early Neolithic crop and weed assemblages from the Linearbandkeramik and the Bulgarian Neolithic cultures: differences and similarities

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                hvh22@cam.ac.uk
                Journal
                Veg Hist Archaeobot
                Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
                Springer-Verlag (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                0939-6314
                1617-6278
                14 October 2008
                December 2008
                : 17
                : Suppl 1
                : 5-18
                Affiliations
                [1 ]McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3ER UK
                [2 ]Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3DZ UK
                [3 ]Institute of Archaeology, University College London, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY UK
                Author notes

                Communicated by A. Fairbairn.

                Article
                187
                10.1007/s00334-008-0187-1
                2720803
                19657476
                © The Author(s) 2008
                Categories
                Review
                Custom metadata
                © Springer-Verlag 2008

                Plant science & Botany

                early neolithic, chronology, archaeobotanical methodology, millet, eurasia

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