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Food Globalisation in Prehistory

Objective

Each of today s major food species is distributed worldwide. While much of that food globalisation has resulted from modern trade networks, it has its roots in prehistory. By the end of the second millennium BC, the south west Asian crops, wheat and barley, were in several parts of China, and Chinese millets and buckwheat were in Europe. There was a parallel exchange of crops between South Asia and Africa. A series of later episodes of globalisation involve exotic fruits, vegetables and flavourings. This earlier phase would appear to involve instead staple starchy crops. Moreover, the movement of these starchy crops seems to precede other forms of evidence for cross-continental contact, such as is reflected in artefacts. What prompted this early globalisation of starch crops? How did it relate to the way in which humans societies were changing, and to the development and evolution of the crops themselves? These are questions I shall address through an archaeogenetic approach, which will modern methods of bio-archaeology and crop genetics. The focus of my bio-archaeological research will be selected sites in West China and Kazakhstan, chosen to complement ongoing research elsewhere (by a number of different groups) and to fill a critical geographical gap in the growing bio-archaeological record of Eurasia. For my genetic analyses I shall target upon two crops, one whose movement in prehistory was from west to east, the other form east to west. Of the various crops that moved in this way, I have chosen barley and foxtail millet chosen on the basis of i) their archaeological record of domestication and spread; ii) their genetic suitability for study, and iii) the timeliness of studying them in relation to contemporary research around the world today.

Field of science

  • /social sciences/sociology/globalization
  • /humanities/history and archaeology/archaeology/bioarchaeology
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture

Call for proposal

ERC-2009-AdG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
United Kingdom
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 946 514,76
Principal investigator
Martin Jones (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (2)

THE CHANCELLOR MASTERS AND SCHOLARS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 1 946 514,76
Address
Trinity Lane The Old Schools
CB2 1TN Cambridge
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Martin Jones (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Renata Schaeffer (Ms.)
THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
United Kingdom
EU contribution
€ 32 485,20
Address
Kirby Corner Road - University House
CV4 8UW Coventry
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Jonathan Bull (Dr.)