Beijing, Dec 14: First domesticated in Chi, the hardy grain millet — familiar in the west today as birdseed — was carried across Eurasia by ancient shepherds and herders, laying the foundation of ‘multi-crop’ agriculture and the rise of settled societies, says a study.
The domestication of the small-seeded cereal millet in North Chi around 10,000 years ago created the perfect crop to bridge the gap between nomadic hunter-gathering and organised agriculture in Neolithic Eurasia, and may offer solutions to modern food security, the study said. This hardy grain was ideal for ancient shepherds and herders, who carried it right across Eurasia, where it was mixed with crops such as wheat and barley. This gave rise to ‘multi-cropping’, which in turn sowed the seeds of complex urban societies, the archaeologists noted. The team of researchers from Britain, US and Chi has traced the spread of the domesticated grain from North Chi and Mongolia into Europe through a “hilly corridor” along the foothills of Eurasia. Millet favours uphill locations, doesn’t require much water, and has a short growing season — it can be harvested 45 days after planting, compared with 100 days for rice, allowing a very mobile form of cultivation. (IANS)