Archaeologists are investigating how local populations 500 years farmed in one of the driest parts of the world, Chile's Atacama Desert.
A well-preserved granary, built with mud bricks and lined with grass and lime, dating back to 2500 BC was found at the site of Rakhigarhi. This site is only one of many that have recently come to light, and that help support the idea that the Harappan civilization had its roots on the banks of the rivers Saraswati and Drishadvati.
Looking at nitrogen isotopes, researchers are claiming that manure was started being used as agriculture spread to Europe from the Near East. The earliest use of manure is being dated to around 8000 years ago, which is thousands of years earlier than had been previously thought.
BYU researchers are proposing that the ancient Maya farmed near the the bajos (wetlands), unlike the modern communities that farm on the hillsides. This new data, gathered by studying carbon isotopes collected from the site of Tikal, may change the way we conceive of ancient farming.
More exciting news is emerging from China regarding ancient diets. Through starch grain analysis, researchers have identified unexpected plant species that are believed to have been consumed. This would suggest that an indigenous agricultural system was in place prior to the arrival of domesticated rice.
Use-wear and starch-grain analysis is showing a new picture of the origins of agriculture in northern China. The results show that various wild plants were processed with these tools, pushing back the exploitation of plants by 12,000 years, placing this region on par with similar activities in the Middle East.
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