Wheat is regarded as one of the most important West Asian domesticates that were introduced into Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age China. Despite a growing body of archaeological data, the timing and routes of its dispersal remain controversial. New radiocarbon (14C) dating evidence from six archaeological sites in the Shandong and Liaoning Peninsulas and Bayesian modelling of available 14C data from China suggest that wheat appeared in the lower Yellow River around 2600 Before Common Era (bce), followed by Gansu and Xinjiang around 1900 bce and finally occurred in the middle Yellow River and Tibet regions by 1600 bce. These results neither support long-standing hypotheses of a progressive spread of wheat agriculture from Xinjiang or Gansu to eastern China nor suggest a nearly synchronous appearance in this vast zone, but corroborate transmission to lower Yellow River elites as an exotic good through cultural interactions with the Eurasian steppe along north-south routes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science