Grains in the Wrong Place

15 Feb 2020

At ... cereal grains dating back 5200 years ago (3200BC) have been discovered in the eastern Altai mountains (on the China side). The Altai mountains in southern Siberia (central Asia if you like) regularly crop up in discoveries of fossils of Neanderthals and Denisovans but now we have evidence people were moving cereal grains, and planting crops, across Eurasia earlier than previously thought - more properly as far north as they were discovered. What role did human migration play? At the same point in time people from the steppes invaded Sumeria - the so called Jemdat Nasr culture people. Cereals from the Fertile Crescent and broom corn millet from northern China spread across the ancient world, integrating complex farming systems that use crop rotation cycles and enabled them to colonise different ecological regions such as mountain valleys. This allowed for demographic expansion we are told - prior to the Silk Road. Technology and human genes moved through the mountains of central Asia before organised trade networks were established. It shaped human cultural development in Europe and Asia.