Rainfall Seasonality and the Spread of Millet Cultivation in Eurasia

Document Type : Research Paper


University of Pennsylvania Museum


Broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum) was known throughout Eurasia in the second millennium BC in regions with warm, moist summers, where its cultivation reduced agricultural risk. Its cultivation during the warm, but dry months at Kyzyltepa and other Iron Age sites in western Central Asia was probably made possible through irrigation practices that were long known and originally developed in the winter-wet, summer-dry climate of West Asia. The adoption of millet by sedentary people of Central Asia is likely associated with intensification of agricultural production rather than as a strategy to reduce agricultural risk.