Discovery of Millet in Bronze Age Mesopotamia Changes Understanding of Early Farming

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Read full article By Ruth SChuster@  HAARETZ  Photo Credit: Queensland Country Life

Not only were the Mesopotamians growing millet, a thirsty summer crop, before the Neo-Assyrians introduced irrigation: They were early adopters of multi-cropping at least 3,500 years ago

It gets hot in Mesopotamia. Today better known as Iraq and Kuwait, the winters bring the region the balm of rain and, in this era of climate change, some surprisingly intense flooding. But the summers are brutal. Hence it was a surprise to some archaeologists that millet, a thirsty summer crop, turns out to have been farmed in Mesopotamia in the Bronze Age, centuries before the advent of large-scale irrigation.

Millet is a hardy plant that can withstand much misery, butstill. Moreover, the Mesopotamians were growing their millet in the same fields where they would grow other crops in otherseasons, an international team led by environmental archaeologist Elise Jakoby Laugier of Rutgers University reveals in Nature Science Reports. This practice was a very early example of the agricultural technique called multicropping, There had been already some signs that millet had reached
Mesopotamia early. However, now decisive micro-botanical evidence of early broomcorn millet cultivation in Kurdistan, northern Iraq has been detected in “dung-rich” sediments at a site named Khani Masi. It dates to around 3,500 years ago. Ergo, whatever humans themselves made of this bitter little grain, it was also fed to animals.

This discovery shows that millet cultivation predated the construction of centrally-controlled irrigation systems under the Neo-Assyrian Empire by centuries, the team says.00 years ago


Posted on

April 20, 2022

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