Frachetti, Michael D., Robert N. Spengler III, Gayle J. Fritz, and Alexei N. Mar’yashev
2010. Earliest Direct Evidence for Broomcorn Millet and Wheat in the Central Eurasian
Steppe Region. Antiquity 84:993-1010. Peer-reviewed.
Before 3000 BC, societies of western Asia were cultivating wheat and societies of China were cultivating broomcorn millet; these are early nodes of the world’s agriculture. The authors are searching for early cereals in the vast lands that separate the two, and report a breakthrough at Begash in south-east Kazakhstan. Here, high precision recovery and dating have revealed the presence of both wheat and millet in the later third millennium BC. Moreover the context, a cremation burial, raises the suggestion that these grains might signal a ritual rather than a subsistence commodity.