Early Evidence for the use of wheat and barley as staple crops on the margins of the Tibetan Plateau
D'Alpoim Guedes, Jade
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We report directly dated evidence from circa 1400 calibrated years (cal) B.C. for the early use of wheat, barley, and flax as staple crops on the borders of the Tibetan Plateau. During recent years, an increasing amount of data from the Tibetan Plateau and its margins shows that a transition from millets to wheat and barley agriculture took place during the second millennium B.C. Using thermal niche modeling, we refute previous assertions that the ecological characteristics of wheat and barley delayed their spread into East Asia. Rather, we demonstrate that the ability of these crops to tolerate frost and their low growing degree-day requirements facilitated their spread into the high-altitude margins of western China. Following their introduction to this region, these crops rapidly replaced Chinese millets and became the staple crops that still characterize agriculture in this area today.