Rice farming in India much older than thought, used as 'summer crop' by Indus civilization

Exciting news about pioneering agricultural practices in the ancient Indus civilization. From the the press release:

Latest research on archaeological sites of the ancient Indus Civilisation, which stretched across what is now Pakistan and northwest India during the Bronze Age, has revealed that domesticated rice farming in South Asia began far earlier than previously believed, and may have developed in tandem with - rather than as a result of - rice domestication in China.

The research also confirms that Indus populations were the earliest people to use complex multi-cropping strategies across both seasons, growing foods during summer (rice, millets and beans) and winter (wheat, barley and pulses), which required different watering regimes. The findings suggest a network of regional farmers supplied assorted produce to the markets of the civilisation's ancient cities.

More at https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/uoc-rfi111816.php

From the abstract of the original article Feeding ancient cities in South Asia: dating the adoption of rice, millet and tropical pulses in the Indus civilisation by C.A. Petrie, J. Bates, T. Higham, and R.N. Singh (need permission to access on line from Cambridge University)

The first direct absolute dates for the exploitation of several summer crops by Indus populations are presented here. These include rice, millets and three tropical pulse species at two settlements in the hinterland of the urban site of Rakhigarhi. The dates confirm the role of native summer domesticates in the rise of Indus cities. They demonstrate that, from their earliest phases, a range of crops and variable strategies, including multi-cropping, were used to feed different urban centres. This has important implications for understanding the development of the earliest cities in South Asia, particularly the organisation of labour and provisioning throughout the year.


Photocredits: Dr. Cameron Petrie