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The Incredible Journey of Barley’s Seasonal Transformation

It is speculated that Barley was first cultivated around 10,000 years ago in the fertile land of the Middle East region. According to a new research Barley turned into both a winter and summer crop and spread through different routes to China along the southern Tibetan Plateau. An individual grain of barley has been recovered from various regions of China but is yet to be identified how it was introduced to China through southern highland routes. It is mentioned in the research that Wheat at first came to central China in the second or third millennium B.C; however, barley did not reach there till then. The present research is done on the basis of radiocarbon analysis of 70 ancient barley grains that were recovered from different archaeological areas of China, India, Kyrgyzstan and Pakistan. Thereafter their DNA was done and ancient textual evidence was formed. The research revealed the mystery why ancient Chinese farmers changed the seasonality of a barley crop. It was very surprising to find that barley was transformed from a winter to summer crop while its passage to China. It was the period in which it spent hundreds of years in the highlands of Tibet and northern India, developing the ability that provided it the favourable condition to survive and prosper even during summer seasons. In the hot, arid southwest Asian region they grew between autumn and preceding spring to complete their life cycles before summers.

By: Anita Aishvarya