Food Globalisation in Prehistory

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

Ten years ago, this critical episode of food globalisation was simply not on record. Prehistoric antecedents to the latter have been discussed in the context of 2nd millennium BC metalworking technology and the development of horse-drawn transport. Together, these episodes constitute over three millennia of trade and exchange, first over land and subsequently over sea, that put people in contact, as well as their foodstuffs, technologies, ideas and diseases. Prior to that exchange-driven history, the default model has been one of isolated farming communities, arising from a series of similarly isolated centres of domestication. Over the last decade, an unprecedented growth in research activity across Asia and Africa has brought to light substantial evidence of extensive movement of domesticated species prior to the 2nd millennium BC. This evidence has come from archaeology, genetics and stable isotope studies. A series of large, current research projects are exploring the nature of this early episode of food globalisation, how it happened, what resources and communities were involve, what were the challenges to movement, and how they were mitigated.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • A climatic imperative? Testing the connection between climate and crop adoption in the Indus and the Hexi corridor (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Penny Jones. Emma Lightfoot. Martin Jones. Tamsin O'Connell. Cameron Petrie.

    Why might societies adopt new crops or change their cropping patterns? Climate change is one of several possible drivers, but its role in crop exchange has rarely been empirically tested and its importance relative to other factors, particularly cultural factors, remains controversial. As part of the Food Globalisation in Prehistory project, two isotopic studies have aimed to directly test the relationship between climate change and crop movement in particular contexts. One focuses on the Hexi...

  • Earliest direct evidence of crop consumption in the central Tian Shan (Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Giedre Motuzaite Matuzeviciute. Martin Kenneth Jones.

    The main goal of this research is to explore the contribution of plant food to the diet of pastoral societies. It is still a subject of debate whether domesticated plants were being consumed and grown or just traded in this region during the Bronze Age, as the role of domesticated crops and their intensity of consumption in pastoral societies has been overlooked and until now hardly studied. This research presents the first results of stable carbon/nitrogen isotope analysis and archaeobotanical...

  • Human dispersal or environmental selection? Using genetics to decode diversity in millet landraces across Eurasia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Natalia Przelomska. Harriet Hunt. James Cockram. Frances Bligh. Martin Jones.

    Eurasian millets (genera Panicum and Setaria) are amongst the world’s oldest cereal crops, with evidence of cultivation in China from 10,000 years cal BP. Archaeobotanical evidence also indicates the presence of domesticated millet in Europe as early as 7,000 years cal BP. New archaeological evidence coming to light suggests that these important staple food crops were part of a 'Trans-Eurasian exchange' during prehistory. Traditional cultivars, or 'landraces', of millet have been preserved in...

  • The introduction and early utilization of barley and wheat in Gansu and Qinghai provinces, northwest China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dong Guanghui. Ying Yang. Hui Wang. Xiaoyan Ren. Fahu Chen.

    Barley and wheat are now important cultivated crops in northwest China, especially on the Tibetan Plateau, which are suggested to have been firstly domesticated in West Asia before 10000 cal yr BP. When these two crops were firstly introduced to China that locates in the other part of the Eurasia has been widely concerned and intensively discussed in recent years. Gansu and Qinghai Provinces is a key region of the "Ancient Silk Road", where might have included important passages in "Food...

  • Prospects and Challenges toward Globalization for Crops in the Eastern Agricultural Complex of North America (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Gayle Fritz.

    Two crops domesticated in North America north of Mexico before European colonization have achieved global economic success: (1) sunflower (Helianthus annuus var. macrocarpus); and (2) eastern squash (Cucurbita pepo ssp. ovifera var. ovifera). Other members of the Eastern Agricultural Complex became extinct as domesticates before European contact or shortly thereafter, forfeiting potential to figure in the Columbian Exchange. Both sunflower and the domesticated eastern chenopod (Chenopodium...

  • Redefining Subsistence Practices and Strategies at the Local and Micro-regional Scales in the Context of Late Prehistoric Trans-Eurasian Food Globalization (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bryan Hanks. Chuenyan Ng. Roger Doonan. Elena Kupriyanova. Nikolai Vinogradov.

    The diffusion of metalworking, horse-drawn transport, and use of domesticated plants and animals across the Eurasian steppes and forest-steppes have dominated recent scholarly discussions of second millennium BCE socio-economic development. The term "globalization" is routinely used to characterize these early processes and key horizons of technological development. This paper draws on recent archaeological field research in the Southern Ural Mountains of the Russian Federation to emphasize the...

  • Social aspects of the diffusion of agricultural products and practices (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Loukas Barton.

    The adoption of agricultural products and practices is a social process. Archaeological patterns reveal more than just the timing and direction of the adoption, they help to reveal the very nature of social interaction over a wide area. In particular, the spatial and temporal patterns of diffusion point to norms and priorities in social learning, which in turn generate new avenues for exploring archaeological data. Evidence for the adoption of wheat (a western domesticate) in East Asia is best...

  • The use of inner bark as food in prehistory: a case study based on roll carbonized remains unearthed from Hulija site, Qinghai province, western China (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shuzhi Wang. Zenglin Wang. Xuelian Zhang. Maolin Ye. Linhai Cai.

    Hulijia site was located in Minhe County, Qinghai Province, western China and was the earliest Neolithic site (5000 BP) in Qinghai Province. Two pieces of roll carbonized remains similar to steamed twisted rolls made of wheat were unearthed from this site. The remains were analyzed by means of stable carbon isotope firstly and the results showed that the value of δ13C was -25.1‰. So roll carbonized remains were tree remains. Then the anatomic structure of the remains was observed by means of...

  • West to east - the spread of wheat and barley cultivation across Eurasia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diane Lister. Huw Jones. Hugo Oliveira. James Cockram. Martin Jones.

    By the end of the 2nd millennium BC, the South-west Asian crops wheat (Triticum spp.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare) are being cultivated in much of Central, South and East Asia. How did these crops spread from west to east? Can we find evidence of the routes of spread through the archaeogenetic analysis of these South-west Asian cereals? We describe our analyses of Eurasian barley and wheat using microsatellite and Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs); this data is enabling us to elucidate...

  • Why Move Starchy Cereals? Stable isotope evidence for the spread of crops across Eurasia in prehistory (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emma Lightfoot.

    The spread of agriculture in the Neolithic and Bronze Age is an important topic of archaeological research, with major implications for human societies across Eurasia. The Food Globalisation in Prehistory project (FOGLIP) has furthered our knowledge of the spread of crops across Eurasia in prehistory using a variety of archaeological methods including archaeobotany, genetics and stable isotope analysis. This presentation will focus on the contribution of stable isotope analysis to our...