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A find from China that may have some bearing on Southeast Asia – 4,000-year-old wheat and millet have been found in Yunnan province , further south than originally thought. While the study has yet to be published, the find raises interesting questions about the movement of people from China down and through to mainland Southeast Asia in the Neolithic and the Bronze Age.

Grain finds in Yunnan province may shed light on a Bronze Age civilisation
South China Morning Post, 09 December 2012

Pottery and grains traditionally found in northern China were recently unearthed in the southwestern province of Yunnan, renewing a long-standing debate about how Chinese civilisation evolved in the region and offering clues about an ancient migration route.

Beijing and Kunming researchers found charred remains of wheat and millet nearly 4,000 years old in Yunnan. The crops are typically cultivated in the Yellow River drainage basin, but not further south. The finding suggests the early settlers in Yunnan cultivated the crop far earlier than previously thought.

“Nobody expected wheat or millet this old from Yunnan,” said Peking University researcher Jin Hetian after presenting the findings at an archaeology conference in Fukuoka, Japan, in June.

The findings have not been published in any journals, pending further data analysis. But they could shed new light on Yunnan’s Dian people, who are credited with creating one of the four distinct Bronze Age civilisations, a society one researcher described as “almost as mysterious as the Mayans”.

Full story here.

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