People and the emergence of crops
This chapter is concerned with the emergence and spread of the major crop groups from their centres of origin in Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas. Although the initial domestication of some crops was sometimes rapid, with non-shattering large seed varieties often appearing within a few decades of cultivation, their subsequent spread across a wider region was relatively slow. In the Near East, domesticated forms of barley and wheat only gradually supplanted wild forms over a 2,500-year period after 10,000 BP. Rice was domesticated before 10,000 BP, but did not become a widespread dietary staple in east Asia until 7,000 BP. Mesoamericans domesticated maize before 9,000 BP, but large cob varieties did not appear until 3,000 BP.
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