Humans needed barley to conquer Tibet's giddy heights

 作者:归颂火     |      日期:2019-03-05 04:11:08
THE roof of the world is not exactly where you might imagine seeing waving fields of barley. But it was this crop that led humans to colonise the Tibetan plateau 3600 years ago. Archaeological evidence, including handprints, found at 4.2 kilometres above sea level suggests humans had an intermittent presence on the Tibetan Plateau as long as 20,000 years ago. By 5200 years ago, villages began to appear at lower altitudes, but it wasn’t until 3600 years ago that humans permanently settled at heights above 2.5 kilometres. Fa-Hu Chen of Lanzhou University in China and colleagues studied plant remains, animal bones and artefacts from 53 archaeological sites across the north-eastern part of the plateau. They found evidence of millet being farmed at lower altitudes, but by around 3600 years ago there was a shift to farming barley, which is resistant to frost (Science, Barley probably came from the Middle East, and the opening of trade routes across Asia around 4500 years ago would have helped the spread, says co-author Martin Jones of the University of Cambridge. “It’s a global phenomenon of farmers taking on exotic crops,” he says. “It’s an expansionist period. People were looking for options in new, extreme environments.” This article appeared in print under the headline “Barley was key to lofty Tibetan life” More on these topics: