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Millet, Wheat, and Society in North China over the Very Long Term

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Joseph Lawson



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by White Horse Press, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper outlines a very longue durée history of three of North China’s most important cereal crops—broomcorn and foxtail millet, and wheat—to illustrate their place within broader social-environmental formations, to illustrate the various biological and cultural factors that enable the spread of these crops, and the ways in which these crops and the patterns in which they are grown influenced the further development of the societies that grew them. This article aims to demonstrate that a very long-run approach raises new questions and clarifies the significance of particular transitions. It, firstly, charts the transition from broomcorn to foxtail millet cultivation in the late Neolithic; secondly, shows efforts to spread winter wheat often met some degree of resistance from farming communities; thirdly, considers the significance of the different processing requirements of wheat and millet, and their implications for social and economic development; and, fourthly, considers the debate over the spread of multiple-cropping systems to North China.

Publication metadata

Author(s): He H, Lawson J, Bell M, Hui F

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and History

Year: 2019

Volume: 27

Issue: 1

Pages: 127-154

Print publication date: 01/02/2021

Online publication date: 04/04/2019

Acceptance date: 09/11/2018

Date deposited: 30/11/2018

ISSN (print): 0967-3407

ISSN (electronic): 1752-7023

Publisher: White Horse Press


DOI: 10.3197/096734019X15463432086937


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