The Spread of Food Production, and the Austronesian Expansion
In both regions, some populations were reasonably dependent on food production by 4000 BC. China witnessed the development of cereal (rice, foxtail, and common millet), legume (soybean), and pig production.
Because domestication ultimately yielded agents of conquest (for example, guns, germs and steel) but arose in only a few areas of the world, and in certain of those areas earlier than in others, the peoples who through biogeographic luck first acquired domesticates acquired enormous advantages over other peoples and expanded. As a result of those replacements, about 88% of all humans alive today speak some language belonging to one or another of a mere seven language families confined in the early Holocene to two small areas of Eurasia that happened to become the earliest centres of domestication — the Fertile Crescent and parts of China. Through that head start, the inhabitants of those two areas spread their languages and genes over much of the rest of the world. Those localized origins of domestication ultimately explain why this international journal of science is published in an Indo-European language rather than in Basque, Swahili, Quechua or Pitjantjatjara.
Most of the economically important plant species introduced to Remote Oceanic islands during prehistory, such as banana, taro, breadfruit, and sugarcane, have Near Oceanic origins, whereas the sweet potato and the bottle gourd are of South American origin.
There can be no doubt that the civilizations of Asia have histories in which rice has been a key component, both as staple foodstuff and as salient cultural symbol.
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