Agriculture began in Eurasia earlier than scientists thought



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June 10 (UPI) – According to a new survey of isotopic data from Eurasia, agriculture began in the region earlier than scientists thought.

To identify the signatures of ancient dietary changes among Eurasian nomads, scientists used quantitative analysis to study isotopic data derived from ancient animal bones and humans.

The analysis – detailed this week in the journal Scientific Reports – helped scientists determine the timing of the adoption of new agricultural products at the beginning of the iron age. By mapping geographic and temporal patterns of dietary change, researchers were also able to identify the expansion of early socio-political networks.

"Our understanding of the rate of crop transmission in the Eurasian steppe has been surprisingly uncertain, in part because of the emphasis placed on excavating cemeteries rather than on settlements where people threw their food." Alicia Ventresca Miller, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, said in a press release.

Miller led the research while he was working at the University of Kiel.

"Even when the settlement sites are excavated, the conservation of carbonized seed remains is often poor," Miller said. "This is what makes the stable isotopic analyzes of human remains of this region so valuable: they provide a direct insight into the dietary dynamics of the ancient pastoralists who lived in diverse environments."

The researchers determined that the development of larger and more complex socio-political structures throughout Eurasia during the Iron Age, around 1000 BC. AD, coincided with an increase in the consumption of millet, a grain grown for the first time in China at 3000 BC.

But millet was not ubiquitous in Eurasia. Researchers determined that Trans-Ural groups focused on growing wheat and barley, while populations in southwestern Siberia mainly consumed livestock products. breeding, as well as locally available wild plants and fish. Mongolian groups only began to eat millet at the end of the Iron Age, at about the same time that the nomadic Xiongnu empire took power.

"This is particularly interesting because it suggests that the Mongolian and Siberian communities have chosen not to participate in the transition to millet farming, while continuing to engage with neighboring groups," said Miller. .

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