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Between Archaeology and Text: The Origins of Rice Consumption and Cultivation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean

Muthukumaran, S; (2014) Between Archaeology and Text: The Origins of Rice Consumption and Cultivation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Papers from the Institute of Archaeology , 24 (1) , Article 14. 10.5334/pia.465. Green open access

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Abstract

Asiatic Rice Oryza sativa L. (Poaceae) is a domesticated grain crop native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, which presently ranks among the most important grains in a global diet. Oryza sativa is comprised of two distinct phylogenetic subspecies, namely japonica and indica, for which genetic evidence indicates at least two centres of domestication: the Lower Yangtze valley for the broad thick-grained japonica (c. 4000 BC) and the Gangetic basin for the thin elongated indica variety (c. 2500 BC) (Fuller et al 2010; idem 2011; Nesbitt et al 2010: 325–7). Modern genetics of landraces from northeast India may indicate a third distinct origin for the so-called aus rice varieties (Londo et al 2006: 9581–2). The genetic history of this taxon is further complicated by post-domestication hybridisation between domesticates and their wild ancestors as well as the presence of rarer forms like the aromatic rice varieties (basmati in South Asia and sadri from Iran) which may be of independent origin (Nesbitt et al 2010: 324–5). In South Asia domesticated rice is attested at various archaeological sites in the Ganges basin from the mid-3rd millennium BC onwards. It subsequently appears at mature and late Harappan levels in north-western India (c. 2000 BC) before arriving at the edge of the eastern Iranian plateau at Pirak on the north Kachi plain in the early 2nd millennium BC (Costantini 1981; Fuller 2006: 36; Sato 2005). The presence of rice at Pirak heralds its gradual westward movement along the Iranian plateau via overland and perhaps even coastal routes into western Iran and Mesopotamia.

Type: Article
Title: Between Archaeology and Text: The Origins of Rice Consumption and Cultivation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.5334/pia.465
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/pia.465
Additional information: Copyright: © 2014 The Author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1465980
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