Madison X. Jia, C. B. An, M. M.

Madison Childers


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F. H. Chen, G. H. Dong, D. J. Zhang, X. Y. Liu, X. Jia, C. B. An, M. M. Ma, Y. W. Xie, L. Barton, X. Y. Ren, Z. J. Zhao, X. H. Wu, M. K. Jones. Science. 347. 248-250 (2015).

General Summary

The article “Agriculture facilitated permanent human occupation of the Tibetan Plateau after 3600 B.P.” sets up a study to determine the correlation between elevation changes and crops for peoples during the beginning and middle of the Holcene period. Experiments would be conducted in the northeastern sections of the Tibetan Plateau. This experiment helped to gain a better understanding of how sedentary peoples would adjust crops according to weather.


The main part of this experiment focused on collecting archaeological samples from sites at different elevations and focusing mainly on the grains, cereals, and animal bones. These samples were then all dated through carbon dating to determine an estimated time-period for the age. The samples and dates were then used to compile a set of data listing elevation, introduction of new foods to the diets, and the age. These methods helped to determine an approximate diet as climates changed.



The Tibetan Plateau study presented data that correlates well with the time period’s various climate changes. The oldest data collected was found at some of the lowest elevations, it was a mixture of animal bones and millet-type plants. As the aging of collected species was examined, it was found higher in elevation and the specimens changed. Diets of these peoples changed from millets to a mixture of millets and barley, and then at the highest elevation, barley and wheat were the main foods found.



The participants of this study came to an understanding that subjects of this time-period learned to adapt to the changing climate conditions that they lived in. With the changes in elevation and weather patterns the people also learned to adjust what they planted. These findings were based on the specimens collected at each site and at the elevations they were collected at. 


Final Thoughts

I found the experiment to be intriguing overall. It was very detailed and provided data sufficient to match the changes in environment for the Tibetan Plateau during this evolutionary period. The study made me question more about the intricacy of planting during this time and where these people learned how to grow the grains and other foods in such harsh conditions. I think another vital step in continuing this experiment would be to take it further and examine the specimens to see how much they have changed, genetically, between now and then. I feel this would help to give a better insight into evolutionary characteristics of foods as the earth goes through major climate changes. 


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